Buried tales of Dalit discrimination in Tamil Nadu village

Dalit, Dalit body, Upper caste Hindu, Vellore, Vaniyambadi, Tamil Nadu, Discrimination, Caste discrimination, Narayanapuram colony,
The bridge where a dalit man's dead body was not allowed to pass by caste Hindus.

The block paved lane that leads to the Dalit colony in Tamil Nadu's Narayanapuram village is dotted with shabby mud huts. In one of those huts, where S Chinnathai lives alone, there is a small patch of dry land — all of 64 square feet — which the 55-year-old widow likes to call her courtyard. It is in this courtyard where Chinnathai's husband and four other relatives lay buried.

But it is not just Chinnathai who has buried her family members in front of her house. With no burial ground, the Dalit colony has turned into a virtual graveyard with all 65 families burying their near and dear ones in whatever little patches of land available, sometimes one body atop another.

Located in the foothills of the Eastern Ghats, the village in Vellore district was recently in the news after a video clip showing the body of a Dalit man being lowered from a bridge for cremation went viral. His relatives were forced to do so after the funeral procession was not allowed to pass by local caste Hindus.

Although Narayanapuram is one village, it is divided into two distinct areas — the main village where about 650 families, mostly Vanniyars (Other Backward Class), live, and the Dalit colony, where all the families belong to the Adi Dravidar community (Scheduled Caste).

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