Natham Colony caste violence: 8 yrs on, scars remain

Inter-caste marriage is seen to be the key reason behind caste violence against Dalits, leaving behind a trail of destruction and discrimination | All photos by Prabhu Mallikarjunan

The opening scene of Pariyerum Perumal, the critically acclaimed 2018 Tamil drama film, shows caste Hindu men unleashing violence on Dalits. To find their  attackers, Perumal, a Dalit youth, and his fellow villagers are hunting with dogs, including his own named Karuppi (black).

Sitting near a pond, their discussion hovers around their identity. Perumal is visibly anxious and wants to leave immediately to avoid any altercation with the caste Hindus (intermediary castes among Hindus considered higher to Dalits) but some question as to why they should fear them.

As they walk back, Karuppi goes missing. The caste Hindus have taken it and left it tied to a railway track. Perumal runs to save it but it is run over by a train.

Violence inflicted on Dalits runs throughout the movie. Filmmaker Mari Selvaraj invokes the railway track scene again in the climax wherein caste Hindus attempt to kill Perumal by pushing him onto the track when he’s unconscious. The killer pours liquor on his body, makes him drink some, to portray it as a suicide.

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