ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Continuing Caste Atrocities in Southern Tamil Nadu

In the erstwhile Tirunelveli district, inclusive of the present Thoothukudi and Tenkasi districts, the year 1995 was a watershed one for the strong assertion of Dalits. In this article, the issues that emerged in the wake of the 1995 caste conflagration and the solutions offered at various academic forums are discussed in light of the recent appointment of a commission headed by retired Justice K Chandru by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

The author is thankful to the anonymous referee for their helpful comments.

Twenty-eight years have passed since caste violence of an unprecedented nature rocked southern Tamil Nadu. In 1995, when caste conflicts were raging in Tamil Nadu, a fact-finding team of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties toured the riot-torn areas and recorded the relationship then existing between the dominant Thevar caste and the subaltern Dalit castes, notably the Pallar (Devendrar) caste. They observed,

caste polarisation runs sharp and deep at all levels of the society ... It is deeply ingrained in the people that hatred or aversion to the rival communities is passed on from one generation to another ... Even the young ones have been contaminated. And the problem is further complicated by the fact that the various castes patronise and lionise lumpen elements to an alarming degree ... Growing unemployment and impoverishment of the rural sector together provide a fertile breeding ground for criminal gangs. What is especially a matter of concern is the administrative apathy in the face of such a dangerous situation. 1

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Updated On : 6th Feb, 2024
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