In April 2017, protestors led by the Dalit Bhoo Avakasa Samara Munnani broke down a 400 metre compound wall constructed by the Nair Service Society (NSS).

Dalits in Kerala village end protest after govt says caste wall wont be reconstructedPhotos : The News Minute
news Protest Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 16:16

Three hundred Dalits living in the Bhajanamadam Dalit colony in Kolenchery in Ernakulam district had been on a protest for the last 186 days. The 160 odd families finally ended their agitation after Ernakulam district Collector promised them that a ‘caste wall’ broken down by them a few months ago, will not be reconstructed.

It was in April 2017, that protestors led by the Dalit Bhoo Avakasa Samara Munnani broke down a 400 metre compound wall constructed by the Nair Service Society (NSS). The wall was built around a ground near the Bhajanamadam Bhagavathi Temple, run by the NSS. The wall was built to block the entry of Dalits to the ground as well another small temple that stood on the same grounds.

On Wednesday Collector K. Mohammed Y. Safirulla promised the protestors that they will not be barred from entering the ground.

The ground was used by the Dalit community for their community feasts and for children to play. A festival called ‘Desa Vilakku’ was usually conducted in the ground and in the small temple run by the Dalit community earlier.

But the Bhajanamadam Bhagavathi Temple authorities denied permission to conduct the festival in the ground in spite of the protest. However, the District Collector intervened and granted permission.

Saseendran, one of the Dalit leaders told The News Minute that the ground was a puramboke land and in 1990s they came to know that government had given the entire land to NSS. “We were using the land, we had our temple there. That was a poromboke land, how could the government do that? NSS has got an acre and 10 cents land for their main temple. None of our families have more than 5 cents of land; there were instances earlier when the dead had been buried in the kitchen as there was no other land,” he said.

Makkotha, a poojari at the Dalit temple in the ground had earlier narrated the story of how NSS took over their place to The News Minute.

Makkotha

“I performed puja in the small temple for almost 25 years. When I fell ill, there was no one to take over, so the temple remained shut for a few years. Few years later, NSS told us they will help us to renovate our temple and will also resume pujas and temple festivals. We agreed, and also gave them donations we could manage with our small earnings. It went on for three years from 2005, but after that they slowly started to shoo us away. They insulted our people who visited the temple,” he had said.

The protestors had also alleged that the temple authorities would tell their children that they don’t ‘lower caste’ people at their land.

Saseendran said that they stopped the protest after collector’s promise and they would resume the strike if the promise been broken.

 

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