Tiruppur district administration breaks down ‘Untouchability Wall’

The revenue department’s takes a step closer to dismantling casteist practices. A demand to bring down the caste wall was advocated by several advocacy groups against untouchability

The Tiruppur district administration in Tamil Nadu took action on Saturday by demolishing a portion of a ‘untouchability wall’ in Avinashi taluk that has long separated two residential areas and prevented access to the Scheduled Caste residents of the area. This demolition is slated to provide the local Dalit families with easier and quicker access to the other parts of the village. Earlier, they had to travel a roundabout of over 2 km to get to the other side, just because of the wall and thus, the wall had begun to be a source of distress for the residents.

The call for the demolition of the wall was supported by social organisations like the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF). C.K. Kanagaraj, who is the Tiruppur district secretary of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), hailed the decision and stated that the organisation had been at the forefront of a 16-year battle to remove this symbol of caste-based segregation.

The New Indian Express reported that they spoke to the panchayat president G Velusamy prior to the demolition on February 4, who said that, “The layout was promoted in 2006 and rules weren’t followed by the then panchayat officials. Because of this, a wall blocking the road was built. The road inside the layout belongs to the panchayat and it is a common pathway leading to Devendran Nagar. After complaints from SC community members, I visited the spot. The wall indeed cuts access to the SC people. Last month, I issued them a notice to demolish the wall. But they are refusing to remove it.”

However, not everyone shares the sentiment. The VIP Resident Welfare Association officials expressed discontent, revealing that a peace meeting was scheduled between the two residential areas on Monday. They argued that the revenue officials acted hastily in demolishing a portion of the wall.

The association’s office-bearers informed IANS that the wall was erected for the safety of their residents, and they are now contemplating legal action against the demolition. This sets the stage for a potential legal battle, highlighting the deep-seated divisions and differing perspectives surrounding the ‘Untouchability Wall.’

Caste walls are not new to Tamil Nadu. According to The Swaddle, in October 2022, a seven foot tall caste wall was demolished by authorities in Thiruvallur after sustained demands by the Dalit residents. The wall had reportedly separated the Dalit settlements from the local Hindu monastery. The report suggests that caste walls are a common practice of discrimination in the state and serve as ‘modern-day tools’ for maintaining untouchability.



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