June 8: Humiliating discrimination on the basis of caste does not spare some even in death. In the heart of Tiruchy city, a huge wall separates the burial grounds of dalit and non-dalit Christians at the Warehouse Cemetery in Palakkarai. Though they are all Roman Catholics, the mortal remains of dalit Christians from areas like Uppuparai, Sengulam Colony, Mallikaipuram, Kemps Town, Kooni Bazaar and Kajapet are buried on the left half of the burial ground while upper caste ‘Pillai Christians’ are buried in the other half.
“We have appealed to the authorities to raze the obnoxious wall but there has been no action yet,” said Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam president Kolathur Mani. “We will lock the office of the civil rights protection wing in Tiruchy on August 15 to protest against the inaction.”
While the state police maintains that untouchability is not prevalent in the state, the PDK has come out with a long list of tea stalls where the ‘twin-tumbler system’ in which different sets of tumblers are used for dalits and caste Hindus is still followed.
According to Mani, the practice is rampant in Oddancharram constituency in Dindigul district and Palladam and Kundadam regions of Tirupur district. “After a detailed field study, we have sent a list of 40 tea stalls in Palladam region alone with the details of the owners,” he said. “Untouchability is practised in every other village in Oddanchatram region but the authorities refuse to take cognisance of it.”