When it comes to caste discrimination, even the dead can find no peace in this Coimbatore village. Representatives of the Dalit village of Karumathampatti in Sulur district have petitioned the Collector of Coimbatore alleging that members of the powerful Gounder community in the area are refusing to give them space to bury their dead in the local graveyard.
According to the petition, the representatives had already approached the Tahsildar on May 19 regarding the matter, and members of the Gounder community were also present at the meeting. However, during negotiations the members of the upper caste had allegedly refused to share the burial ground with Dalits.
"We were initially burying our people in a forest area near the village. But, then the land was bought by a private person and he told us we can no longer use it," says Nachimuthu, who is representing the 200 Dalits in his village. "So, we started burying them at the outer edge a water body, which other communities use as well. But now the Gounders are threatening violence if we use that burial ground," he alleges.
The Tahsildar, after the meeting with both communities, forwarded the matter to the Revenue District Officer (RDO), says the petition. When TNM contacted RDO Maduranthaki, however, she stated that she was not aware that such a situation had risen and was not informed by the Tahsildar of the problem yet.
With no action being carried out on the issue, members of the Dalit community have now taken the matter up with the Collector. "We met the Collector and he said that he will look into the issue," says Nachimuthu.
"In fact, he has said that both communities will not be allowed to bury their dead in that area as it is at the edge of a water body and could lead to high levels of pollution," he adds.
(Inputs from Sudhakar Balasundaram)