20, Jan 2016
Written by Arun Janardhanan | Madurai | Updated: January 20, 2016 8:08 am
Policemen carry the body of Chellamuthu through the forest path for burial at Vazhavur, Nagapattinam.
WITH A straight face, M Karthikeyan says his grandparents, who died recently, received “the distinction of a state burial”. “They were buried by police, only the 21-gun salute was missing,” said the 30-year-old Dalit from Nagapattinam.
Behind the dark humour, is a chilling story of how caste divisions in a Tamil Nadu village forced a Dalit family to put the bodies of its near ones on ice for days after being denied access to the burial ground through a public road.
According to Karthikeyan, the influential Vanniyars of Vazhavur, led by an AIADMK leader, prevented the burial procession of his grandparents through the road, saying it was a “bad omen”. Then, police forcibly took away the bodies through a different route and buried them, ignoring even a High Court order in his grandfather’s case, he said.
Karthikeyan, who holds a BA in English Literature and recently completed a teachers training programme, said District Collector S Palanisami, DIG Senthil Kumar, SP Abhinav Kumar, Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) Krishnammal and around 200 police personnel tried to convince the Dalits to avoid the public road after his grandfather Chellamuthu (100) died on January 3.