Caste discrimination, social boycott, Karnataka social activists,
The activists said conflicts arise when caste-based panchayats announce punitive measures against alleged offenders of social morality. This sharply comes into play during marriages between upper caste and lower caste persons | Representational image

Woman in Tamil Nadu booked for refusing to rent house to a Dalit

A caste Hindu woman has been booked in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu for refusing to rent her house to a Scheduled Caste man citing his caste.

The accused woman has been identified as S Lakshmi, a resident of Ottanchathiram in Dindigul district. Recently, Madurai Veeran, a dalit residing at Arasapillaipatti village, while searching a house in the town approached Velusamy, a vegetable vendor.

As Velusamy himself was looking for a tenant, he took Veeran to his house. Velusamy’s wife Lakshmi, however, asked about Veeran’s caste. When Veeran said that he belonged to the Scheduled Caste, Lakshmi refused to rent the house.

Also read: For poverty-struck, caste-oppressed individual, does religion matter?

Evasive replies

“Initially I did not get agitated. I asked her the reason for not renting the house to me. She said that she would not rent her house to people belonging to Muslim, Christian and Scheduled Caste communities as her family deity would not accept it,” said Veeran.

“It is not the case with Lakshmi alone. People gave different evasive replies for not renting a house for me. But Lakshmi directly said caste as the reason for not renting out the house to me,” Veeran added.

Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Dindigul district leader Joseph Christopher, who accompanied Veeran said that Lakshmi was not the only person who denied renting a house to Veeran.

“We approached a lot of people and, in fact, I did not even display my political affiliation…Still, just based on the appearance, a lot of them denied entry into their house and some gave evasive replies saying that they have already rented out the house, even when they had not,” said Joseph.

Increasing cases

Based on Veeran’s complaint, Ottanchathiram police has registered a case against Lakshmi under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and are inquiring into the matter.

Also read: With unique caste dynamics in Bihar, it may be Dilli Chalo for Nitish

Meanwhile, an artist Shajan also shared about a similar experience where he was asked about his caste and denied house for rent in Chennai on a social media platform. “It is an undeniable fact that cities, the most civilised spaces, are also spaces where we find practices of untouchability increasing, taking multiple different forms,” he said.

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