17 Dalits killed in Mettupalayam: SC Commission to visit village, conduct inquiry
The visit comes after Lok Sabha MP and VCK leader D Ravikumar appealed to the Ministry of Social Justice to conduct an inquiry into the death of 17 Dalits in a wall collapse.
A team from the National Commission for Scheduled Castes led by Chairman I Murugan will be visiting Nadur village in Coimbatore district on Thursday, in connection to the death of 17 Dalits, after a wall collapsed on their residences. The Commission’s representative will visit the village at 12 pm and will be accompanied by top police officials from the District.
The visit comes after Lok Sabha MP and VCK leader D Ravikumar appealed to the Union Ministry of Social Justice to conduct an inquiry into the deaths. According to the VCK and caste activists, the wall which collapsed on early Monday morning on three houses, reducing them to rubble, was a physical manifestation of the caste discrimination rampant in the state. 300 Dalit families lived in Kannappan Nagar and several of them had tiled roofs. Eight years ago, despite their protests, Sivasubramaniam, a textile shop owner, raised the compound wall behind his residence and near the Dalit settlement to 20 feet from eight feet. Moreover, it was made of basalt rock or Karungal and sources in the Municipality tell TNM that the structure did not have the requisite approvals.
Bringing the matter to the Centre’s attention, MP Ravikumar had written to the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment on Tuesday. He alleged that it was an ‘Untouchability’ wall and that victims and activists who protested the caste discrimination were arrested by the police on Monday.
He further requested that the Chairman of the Scheduled Communities Commission to visit Nadur for a full-fledged inquiry.
Residents who spoke to TNM after the tragedy had alleged that their protests against the wall and complaints to the district administration were taken lightly because of their social standing. They further accused the owner of the house of having built the wall, with the aim of keeping member of the Dalit community away from his property.
“We are from a Scheduled community and barely have money to make ends meet. So they believe that we will jump across their compound and steal their belongings,” said Nandakumar, a Dalit resident. “That is why they have built such a large compound wall,” he adds.
50-year-old Murugesh. another resident whose four relatives were crushed to death by the wall said, “All the people who died are Dalits. We are the ones who have suffered because of this wall. What was the need to build such a tall wall? Even a central prison won’t have such a big structure.”