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DALITS IN DRAVIDIAN LAND
Dravidian movement started essentially as a non Brahmin movement targeted at the domination of Brahmins in all spheres of life depriving other communities of any legitimate share. The Justice Party which was the precursor for the later day Dravidian parties, brought forth many social legislations including caste based reservations as a means of empowering non Brahmin groups. While they covered the three other varnas in Charurvarna, they left out Panchama, the untouchable, the todays’s resurgent Dalit. So much so that atrocities against Dalits are a common feature in Dravidian land which evokes no sympathy from the leadership of Dravidian parties.
During the days of anti Brahmin agitation, Periyar was targeting hotels run by Brahmins for they proclaimed in the sign board as Brammanal Hotel ( Hotel by Brahmins). He felt that the word Brahmin demands racial superiority even though the narration was to highlight that the hotel serves vegetarian food. He called Brahmins as Pappans ( I was till recently thinking this a derogatory remark but Paramacharya of Kanchi has claimed that this is not so silapathikaram talks about Parpana seri referring to Brahmin agraharams) . Over a period of time, this practice of putting up sign boards was given up. Instead Gounder mess, Achi mess, Chettinad Mess depicting the cuisine served cropped up. There was not even a murmur on these casteist tags by Dravidian parties.
Recently, a hotel near Sri ranganatha Swamy temple in Srirangam spotted a sign board as Brammanal café. Dravidian outfits took the issue to streets and the hotel owner also took the help of Hindu Munnani outfits to defend his right to name his hotel. Finally the hotel gave up the fight and this was claimed as victory in Dravidian party organ Vidhuthalai. Fine, they had spiritedly fought to remove what they thought was restoration of a caste prejudice,.
Dharmapuri is a backward district of Tamil nadu with predominantly Vanniar population. Recently, Kaduvetti Guru, a propaganda secretary of PMK, a vanniar party led by Dr.Ramdoss advised Vanniars to desist from inter caste marriages and vowed to finish those who dare to marry Vanniar Girls. Similarly the Kongu vellala Gowders of Coimbatore also conducted a meeting forbading their caste members from supporting inter caste marriages. One Vanniar Girl a staff nurse loved a Dalit boy and they got married and sought asylum in a police station. An enraged Vanniar community called a Panchayat which asked the groom to return the girl he had married to her parents. The Groom’s father agreed to do so but the Girl refused to go. Suddenly armed vanniars barged in to Dalit hamlets, looted all the money, escaped with ration cards, Educational certificates and put the houses on fire
This is not necessarily a retaliation for the Dalit Boy marrying a Vanniar Girl as media wants us to believe. This is an attack on the self assertion of Dalits against Vanniar Stranglehold. Except for Marxist Party, CPI and VCK, a dalit party none of the Dravidian parties visited the site and shared the grief of Dalits. Even in Mela valavu, Keeripatti, papparapatti, Uthapuram where the aggressors were Thevars and Pillaimar, the Dravidian parties were silent. Marxists were the only party to sympathise with the victims. It is a shame on Dravidian parties who call themselves as fighters against casteism to be silent on the inhuman attacks on hapless Dalit victims.
PS. It is now claimed Vaiko will be leading a delegation of his party men to the dalit hamlets ravaged by violence. Vaiko is proving to be a different kind of Dravidian leader with human values. Hats of to him