Friday, May 2, 2008

Reclamation board for Arunthathiyars sought

No need for compartmental reservation for Dalits: PT
10 lakh vacancies set aside for SC/ST communities had not been filled up
These communities did not form even one per cent of the Class I to Class III employees
MADURAI: A reclamation board on the lines of the one for Denotified Tribes was needed for rehabilitation and liberation of Arunthathiyar castes, who lived as manual scavengers, gravediggers and cobblers, instead of having a compartmental reservation for them, said Puthiya Tamizhagam founder K. Krishnasamy.
Addressing a press conference here on Saturday, Dr. Krishnasamy called for proper implementation of the constitutionally provided existing quota of 18 per cent in the State and 22.5 per cent in Central Government for Scheduled Castes, as nearly 10 lakh vacancies set aside for (SC/ST) communities had not been filled up by the Central and State governments.
Stating that members of SC/ST communities did not form even one per cent of the Class I to Class III employees, he said that, on the other hand, at Class IV level, which included conservancy work as sweepers and scavengers, reservation was total and complete.
He also claimed that not even 6 per cent of the reserved quota was filled and only if 18 per cent was fully implemented by filling up vacancies every caste group among the SC/STs would benefit. This being the position there was no need for the State Government to go for compartmental reservation, which was a ploy to prevent the assertion of Dalits under a single banner when there was an utmost need to be united to face atrocities and crimes against untouchability.
Commenting that National Commission for Scheduled Castes was against compartmental reservation, he wanted the State Government to properly help the ‘safai karamcharis’ of the State.

Compartmental reservation sought for Arunthathiyars

MADURAI: The Adi Tamilar Peravai has sought compartmental reservation for Arunthathiyar Dalits.
The Peravai, an Ambedkarite social movement working for the upliftment of Arunthathiyar community, on Monday demanded six per cent out of 18 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in employment and education.
Speaking at the sixth regional conference here, its president R. Adiyaman, said that Arunthathiyars were at the lowest rung among the Scheduled Castes and hence, the State Government should provide a reservation of 6 per cent to them on the basis of their population.
Calling for the abolition of manual scavenging, the conference wanted the Government to provide alternative means of livelihood to those people engaged in the work.
It felt that the whole of the Dalit sub-caste, referred to in different names, should be clubbed and called Arunthathiyar.
A Government Order should be passed in this regard.
The community should be relieved of the Tamil Nadu Adi Dravida Development Corporation (THADCO) loans as in the case of farmers who had taken cooperative loans.
It said that a life-size statue of freedom fighter Ondi Veeran Pagadai should be installed in Tirunelveli and a memorial for him built in Nerkattum Sevvayal.
The Peravai wanted the authorities to relocate the statue of Madurai Veeran from near the eastern tower to inside the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple as it was near the place where visitors left their footwear.

Courtesy THE HINDU

Suffering in silence

`ARUNTHATHIYARS' constitute one of the three major social groups among Dalits in Tamil Nadu, the other two being `Paraiyar' and `Pallar'. Although Arunthathiyars are present in almost all districts, their concentration is relatively high in the western districts of Coimbatore, Erode and Namakkal. Brought into the State five centuries ago mainly as warriors by the Nayaks from the Vijayanagar empire, a substantial number of Arunthathiyar, who speak either Telugu or Kannada, work as menial servants or as sanitary workers employed by local bodies. Most others in the community are agricultural workers.
Just like the other sections of Dalits, they are segregated and required to do odd jobs such as burying dead cattle and digging graves. Worse, Arunthathiyars, particularly women, have been compelled for centuries to do the humiliating job of removing human excreta and cleaning dry latrines, which still exist in large numbers despite a ban. Like many other laws relating to Dalits, the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, remains on paper. Arunthathiyars often complain of ill-treatment by not only caste Hindus, but also other sections of Dalits. Arunthathiyars are thus, apparently, the worst victims of untouchability.
Even in areas where they are said to be better off (such as western Tamil Nadu), Arunthathiyars silently suffer untouchability in its myriad forms - for instance, denial of access to common water sources, public roads and temples, shops and schools. Seldom do they protest their humiliation. Even the Dalit assertion in the 1990s after the birth centenary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar apparently made little impact on their situation. Bezwada Wilson of Andhra Pradesh, who led a spirited campaign for a Central government ban on manual scavenging, said: "The pity is also that we safai karamcharis [manual scavengers] did not accept Babasaheb Ambedkar as our leader when he thundered that this occupation should not be glorified [as Gandhi did] but banned with immediate effect. Divided within ourselves, we did not use the momentum of the rest of the Dalit movements to further our cause."
Many Pallars in southern Tamil Nadu and Parayars in the northern districts have become aware of their rights and privileges, thanks to their access to education. However, Arunthathiyars remain backward in every respect. Only in recent times have there been attempts by Dalit activists to organise them.
The first major protest by Arunthathiyars was their boycott of elections to the Lok Sabha in 2002 at Kalapatti village in Coimbatore district in protest against the government's failure to concede their long-pending demands, including permission to enter the temple. Neither the caste Hindu elders nor the leaders of the political parties, including those of the Sangh Parivar who had often used Arunthathiyars as cannon fodder supports them in their struggle.
In fact, violence was let loose on the protesting Arunthathiyars by a 200-strong mob. More than 100 of their houses were ransacked and their belongings damaged. Many huts were burnt down. Nearly 15 persons were seriously injured in the attack. The assailants also destroyed university certificates of many Arunthathiyar youth. The police assistance came late, though a police station was less than 7 km away from the trouble spot (Frontline, July 20, 2004).
S. Viswanathan
Courtesy The Hindu

Some Dalits Are Even Less Equal

The Arunthathiyars bear the weight of caste oppression in Tamil Nadu, says R. Adhyaman
I belong to the Arunthathiyar community, the most oppressed of the Scheduled Castes in Tamil Nadu, where Dalits comprise 20 percent of the population. Of the 76 communities listed as SCS, the Paraiyars, the Pallars and the Arunthathiyars are the three main groups.Arunthathiyars constitute about one-third of the state’s Dalit population and live in miserable conditions, working as manual scavengers, cobblers and agricultural labourers. Thousands are employed as conservancy workers in civic bodies. Though they speak Telugu at home, their children go to Tamil medium schools and follow Tamil customs. We are Tamils and that’s why I have named my organisation the Adhi Thamizhar Peravai. All Dalits are not equal. Arunthathiyars are looked down upon by other SCS. We bear the whole weight of caste oppression. It is no secret that the two-tumbler system is still prevalent in many villages. But I have news for you. There are villages where they keep three tumblers in tea shops — one for the caste Hindu, one for the Arunthathiyar, and one for the non-Arunthathiyar Dalit. The Pallars and Paraiyars think they are superior to us. They don’t inter-marry with us. The two Dalit parties in the state, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal (VC, formerly known as Dalit Panthers of India) and Puthiya Thamizhagam, represent the interests of the Paraiyars and the Pallars respectively. In the last Assembly elections, VC contested nine seats as part of the AIADMK front and all nine candidates belonged to the Paraiyar community.There are 44 reserved seats in the Assembly, but Arunthathiyars have never won more than five seats. At present, there are three Arunthathiyar MLAS — two in the DMK and one in the AIADMK. Paraiyars are the majority in the northern districts, Pallars in the southern districts, and Arunthathiyars in the western districts. No one except a Paraiyar can contest a reserved seat in the north. Pallars rule the roost in the south. But when it comes to areas where we are in majority, this rule does not apply. Parties field non- Arunthathiyars and win. The benefits of reservation for Dalits in Tamil Nadu have gone to Pallars and Paraiyars. There is 18 percent reservation for SCS. Our demand is that six percent of it should be earmarked for Arunthathiyars. We have represented our demands to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and he has promised to consider the matter. We have also asked him to take steps to abolish manual scavenging. The CM granted one of our demands and formed a welfare board for conservancy workers. Adhiyaman is founder president, Adhi Thamizhar Peravai, a Dalit social movement. As told to PC Vinoj Kumar
Sep 01 , 2007
courtesy TEHELKA

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