Sunday, February 7, 2010

Coimbatore admn brings down ‘untouchability wall’

A wall built twenty years ago by upper caste Hindus allegedly to keep out Dalits, was finally demolished by the authorities in Coimbatore district on Saturday. The 20-feet long wall built across a public road is the second such ‘untouchability wall’ found in the state, the first being the one at Uthapuram village near Madurai.

According to sources, the wall at Singanellur in Coimbatore was constructed by caste Hindus after 58 Dalit families were housed in a new colony named Thanthai Periyar Nagar under a government scheme in 1989. The structure blocked direct access to the main road in an attempt to prevent the Dalit families from traversing through the areas populated by the caste Hindus. A Vinayak temple was also built near it to impart religious sanctity to the structure.

The Untouchability Eradication Front, a social grouping backed by the CPM that first exposed the existence of the Uthapuram wall, took up the issue with the district administration, arguing that the wall was at once illegal and against integration of society. “We brought this to the attention of the Corporation Commissioner and other senior officials and also provided them enough evidence to prove that the wall was build on encroached land and that it segregated public on caste lines,” said a member of the Front. After initial inquiry, the civic administration decided that the wall was illegal and should be demolished, said city Commissioner Anshul Mishra, even as he refused to comment on whether it was indeed an “untouchability wall”.

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