Violence against Dalits continues unrestricted across the nation. In the face of such atrocities, marginalised communities are left grappling with fear and uncertainty, highlighting the urgent need for societal change.
Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have once again, witnessed distressing instances of caste-based violence, shedding light on the pervasive discrimination that continues to grip society. The two separate incidents of attacks on Dalit students took place this month and have brought the spotlight on caste-based violence in Tamil Nadu, India.
Karur, Tamil Nadu
A young boy and his grandmother were attacked last week in Karur. According to the police, the 14-year-old Dalit boy is alleged to have engaged in a verbal altercation with an intermediate caste boy, resulting in a brawl aboard a government school bus. The altercation took a more sinister turn the following day, as the 20 boys appeared at the Dalit boy’s residence, assaulting him and his grandmother, identified as Kaliyammal, according to the Indian Express.
These people have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including 294 B (related to obscene acts) and 323 (pertaining to voluntarily causing hurt). Additionally, they face charges under the Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act and the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, reflecting the gravity of their actions.
The Dalit boy, in a police complaint, accused the group of several boys of attacking him and his grandmother. Two individuals, Ilango and Manikantan, along with two minors, were taken into police custody. Meanwhile, the Dalit boy and his grandmother, who has been his sole caretaker following the loss of both his parents, were swiftly transferred to the Karur Government Hospital for medical attention. However, the police has alleged that no attack took place.
This unsettling occurrence marks the second instance of Dalit students reportedly being targeted by students from the intermediate caste. Earlier, in Nanguneri, Tirunelveli district, another group of intermediate caste boys assaulted a Dalit boy, leaving his younger sister injured as well.
Valliyoor, Tamil Nadu
In a separate case from the state, the Tamil Nadu Police apprehended six minor boys on Friday for their alleged involvement in an attack on a 17-year-old Dalit student. The victim, who had complained of harassment by three of the boys to the school management, was reportedly attacked with sickles. The victim’s sister also suffered injuries in the assault, according to India Today.
The victim and his sister were immediately rushed to a hospital, where they are reportedly out of danger. In response to the incident, the victim’s family staged a protest outside the hospital, urging law enforcement to take swift action against the attackers.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin condemned the attack, saying “The incident in Nanguneri is shocking. This shows how deeply caste poison has permeated even amongst the young students.” The Chief Minister also offered reassurance to the victims’ mother, promising comprehensive support to ensure the continuation of their education.
All six accused individuals belong to the Maravar community, and two of them were classmates of the victim at a school in Valliyoor. The victim had endured casteist slurs, extortion, and demeaning tasks assigned by the accused boys, compelling him to skip from school for several days. Despite assurances from his class teacher and the headmistress that the issue would be addressed, the situation escalated dramatically.
The assailants, armed with sickles, forcibly entered the victim’s residence, leading to a violent altercation during which the victim’s sister attempted to shield him. The police promptly detained the suspects and their associates. The accused minors have been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Juvenile Justice Act, and the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
A fact-finding study conducted on-site by Evidence, a Dalit rights organisation, concluded that the assailants had allegedly harboured intentions to cause harm. The organisation’s report stated that the attackers were armed with a sickle, with three of them reportedly using it in the assault.
Tragically, this incident is not isolated. The Deccan Herald reports that according to Kathir, the leader of the NGO ‘Evidence,’ between November 2022 and January 2023, nearly 450 cases were registered under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, and thus highlight the distressing prevalence of such violence.
These disturbing incidents have highlighted the urgent need for addressing caste-based violence and discrimination in Tamil Nadu. The events have also prompted conversations about the safety and security of Dalit students within the state’s educational institutions. As investigations continue, the spotlight remains on the imperative to ensure a just and inclusive society that safeguards the rights and dignity of all its citizens.
Adding to this grim narrative is the recent incident in Satara, Maharashtra, where a Dalit woman faced public humiliation and assault. Her only “crime” was daring to demand the return of money she was reportedly owed.
The woman was from Maan Taluka in Satara and had lent money to a group of individuals, but upon requesting repayment, she was subjected to a brutal attack by four assailants in Panavan village, Maan Taluka. The disturbing incident was caught on video. The attackers used sharp weapons in the assault and abused her as they beat her brutally in public view. Subsequently, the police responded by lodging a complaint, resulting in the arrest of two suspects. However, two more culprits remain at large, prompting an ongoing search by the police. The victim sustained severe injuries and is currently undergoing treatment at a hospital. The case has been registered under the SC/ST Atrocities Act, with IPC 354 also included in the charges, according to Sameer Shaikh, Superintendent of Police, Satara.
These incidents of violence are stark reminders of the deeply rooted caste-based discrimination that continues to plague society across the length and breadth of the nation. While legal actions are a step toward justice, they also underline the pressing need for systemic changes, education, and awareness campaigns to dismantle the entrenched biases that perpetuate such violence.
Dalit women thrashed, molested in full public view in Satara Maharashtra
Her crime? She was asking people to return the they borrowed from her
Atrocity act filed against accused seen in the video pic.twitter.com/jVacr969ww
— Ravi Ratan (@scribe_it) August 28, 2023
Two Dalit youths tragically lost their lives, and another was injured in a devastating incident that occurred in Ranasar village of the Didwana-Kuchaman district. The incident transpired on Monday night when a high-speed Bolero jeep collided with their motorcycle. The victims, identified as Rajuram and Chunni Lal from Bidiyad village in Parbatsar, in Rajasthan’s Nagaur, were on their way back home after attending a religious fair. Reportedly, a according to Free Press Journal, during a halt at a hotel along the way, an altercation erupted between them and a group of men. The situation escalated, resulting in the group chasing the victims and deliberately ramming their Bolero jeep into the youths’ motorcycle, leading to the untimely demise of Rajuram and Chunni Lal. Another individual, Kishnaram, also sustained injuries during the incident. The police have launched an investigation to apprehend the culprits, and the family members of the deceased are urging for a CBI inquiry to ensure a thorough and impartial investigation into this distressing incident. According to Times Now, the vehicle repeatedly crushed the legs of the victims to the point where there legs were discovered separate from the body.
According to CJP, the statistics presented in the NCRB report tell us that there was a 1.2% rise in crimes against Scheduled Castes in 2021, with the number increasing from 50,291 cases in 2020 to 50,900 cases, making it a grim picture for the situation of Dalits rights in India.