This is a fact finding report into the current caste conflict in Chennai. The purpose is to muster quick support to the Dalit students involved because they are just feeling helpless. If any of you (including organizations) wish to come forward, you may contact me. My contact is +91 9820216146.
- Anand Teltumbde
The Facts behind the Incidents of violence at Chennai
Dr. Ambedkar Law College.
The incident of violence on 12.11.2008 at Dr.Ambedkar Law College has shaken the conscience of every body. This incident surely needs to be condemned. The reason behind the submission of details herein is to bring out the facts behind the incidents of violence at a law college that we all believe is to produce future judges and socially conscious lawyer.
That clashes take place in the law college is not a new phenomena. We are shaken thoroughly to know the details of the brewing tension over the past four years that has broken out violently today. “Thevar Peravai” that functions with its headquarters at Chennai has been concentrating, specifically targeting the Thevar community students from the southern districts of Tamilnadu. It functions primarily in whipping up the passions and utilizes them for their vested parochial goals. With these students a casteist organization named ‘ Mukkulothor Student’s Federation” has already been formed. The main objective of this organization is to target and attack the Dalits. And they also raise queries like while all other 4 govt. law colleges are named as Govt.law college, why should the Chennai law college be named after Dr.Ambedkar and called Dr.Ambedkar law college. Since Dr.Ambedkar is a Dalit this name should be changed. This is their contention for their past 4 years. They do not use Ambedkar’s name in any of their advertisement and mention it only as ‘Chennai Law College’.
Such activities has raised unnecessary discomfiture amonsgtthe dalit students and raised a sense of hatred between the communities. In all these issues Bharathi Kannan, belonging to Mukkulathor Student Federation is the prime culprit. In the recent past,( in 6 months duration) Bharathi Kannan was waiting with five of his friends with swords in hand prowling to kill atleast tow Dalit boys. Police came to know of this and arrested him red handed with 3 long swords in their possession. But they were released without any complaints been filed against them. Though the college authorities were in the know of his activities it did not make any efforts to curb him. In the same manner he with his friends went and attacked the students of Dr.Ambedkar Law college residing in hostel at Millers road, Kilpauk. The Principal did not take any action. At least there are 17 cases including attempt to murder, pending on Bharathi Kannan.
In this circumstance on ‘30th October’ during the Thevar Jayanthi the passion were whipped up. The poster prepared by Mukkulothor Students Federation expressed the re assertion of its casteist hierarchy, with usages avoiding Dr. Ambedkar’s name. Also they teased the Dalit students on that day. The Dalits who questioned this were beaten up and with the law college students having exams from 3 rd of November, Mukkulothor Students Federation declared that any Dalit entering the college would be thrashed and killed. They were roaming around in the college complex with logs, iron rod, dagger and swords. Dalit boys could not enter the hall. Some Dalit boys came sneaking through and wrote the exams. Police or college authority did not take any action even though they were in the know of things.
Only on such a condition they came on 12.11.2008with logs, sticks etc for self protection. College authorities insisted that the students should avoid precipitating the issue. The Dalit students retorted stating that when the college authorities did not take any action when they were being prevented from attending exams, and they had come there for giving protection for Dalits and not attacking the Mukkulathor. Since some Dalit students have come for exams and Mukkulathors have identified and planned to attack them, they came for their defence. In such a situation Bharathikannan, Arumugam and Ayyadurai with daggers 2 ft. long, jumped in shouting that they shall kill at least 5 or so and moved towards the Dalit students. The Dalit students ran helter- shelter for their safety. When Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam ran and caught hold of Chithraiselvan, a Dalit student and tried to stab him down through the head. When he turned and saved his head his ears were torn off by the dagger. Other students joined in to save Chithrai Selvan and hit Bharathi kannan and Arumugam.
The sole responsibility for this callous approach rests entirely with the college authorities. For the last 4years when in the name of celebrating Thevar Jayanthi, efforts to assert caste hierarchy were being made, specifically failing to address Dr.Ambedkar Law college as such and naming it only as Chennai law college, threatening of the Dalit students, issuing threat to life for those Dalit students who opposed bringing caste conflict into the campus etc were brought to the notice of the college authorities no action was taken. Especially, for the last three days when it was brought to their notice of the magnitude and massive proportion of the brewing trouble, police or the college authorities made no action was taken to prevent the same.
In this situation Bharathi Kannan came in with daggers in hand to attack Dalit students. If the college authorities had acted in time this incident of violence could have been prevented.
1) Take appropriate action on the Principal for failing to take necessary action in time to prevent the brewing violence.
2) College authorities should initiate necessary action to prevent the casteist organizations that function from within the campus triggering violence.
3) Give due protection to all the students especially the Dalit students.
4) Take necessary action on those behind the incidents of violence, the organization, Thevar Peravai for fomenting casteist feelings.
5) Take appropriate action on the police authorities that failed to prevent the students who prowled inside the college campus for the past one week with weapons.