By Ashima Gujral:
Does the title seem like the beginning of a tale set somewhere in the early twentieth century? I wish it was. But sadly this article talks about a tragic incident that took place just a few days ago in our very own and dear India.
India- the land of unity in diversity, the land that boasts of accommodating various castes and cultures, raves and rants about secularism and rising above all differences is yet again shamed by the inhumanity shown by a certain sect of people.
Inter-caste marriages are not a rare occasion today. We hear about them almost every day. Sometimes the families readily give their approval and at times disapproval leads to difficult situations. But no one must have really come across a scenario where one inter-caste marriage turns into a violent attack on three residential settlements leaving more than a thousand homeless, deprived and looted of their belongings for absolutely no fault of theirs!
Because a mob of Vanniyars – a caste whose members consider themselves superior to the Dalit community – were unable to accept that their daughter is marrying a boy from the dalit community. The father of the girl committed suicide in “disgrace” creating rage among the Vanniyar community which launched a “planned attack” on three settlements of the dalits. On the 7th of November, in Dharmapuri district of Tamil Nadu, around 1000 armed Hindus forcibly entered the Natham colony of Nayakkankottai village and attacked the people with deadly weapons like knives, wooden logs and petrol bombs.
Interestingly, the couple had probably anticipated attacks from the members of the bride’s community and had thus also approached the police for protection from the same. But alas! They were sent back with fake assurances and promises of safety. For when the time came, the police rather chose to step back and let the incident occur. They also probably feared to interfere in the acts of the angry Vanniyars lest they may attack the police too! By the time the police reached the crime location, the attackers had fled. The couple is “now” under police protection.
The government too it seems has tried to do its bit to make things better. It has given temporary shelter to the homeless and also given some compensation. Alongside it has shelled out money for repairs which are only expected to start soon to bring the lives back to normal for the innocents who became victims of this violence.
This incident brings out the pitiful plight of rural India. An inter-caste marriage even today can make lives hell and trigger violence. It proves that casteism is still not out of the lives and minds of people especially in a state like Tamil Nadu where excessive attempts were made to remove this defect of thinking from the minds and hearts of people.
And why just rural India? Urban cities have also shown such cases though less in intensity and number. This social divide that is rooted strongly needs awareness and strong punishments to stop people from attempting such acts. We can only hope that the 90 people arrested are punished severely to set an example as how the law strictly prohibits this behaviour. Not just in theory but in practice!