In Theni district of Tamil Nadu, residents belonging to the Muslim community objected to an old Dalit woman’s funeral procession passing through their area, leading to clashes between the two communities. Over 30 people were injured and three vehicles were set on fire. The procession was taking this route because the regular route was busy with another procession. The police were required to intervene in the matter to restore law and order in the area.
Theni district shares borders with the state of Kerala and the area is famous for its coconut trees. The incident sparked off when a Muslim man, who owns a coconut field, was stopped by a local Dalit while passing through the area. The conversation led to a heated argument between the two, followed by a fight using sticks and rocks wherein the man from the Dalit community got injured. Reacting to this, a mob entered the street inhabited by Muslims and burnt down some shops in the area including a photo studio. The mob proceeded to enter houses and broke furniture and TV sets, and while on their way back set fire to a car and a motorcycle. The police had surrounded the area to prevent any further violence by the communities. The local administration, fearing that tension may spread out to other areas, deployed over 200 police personals to the area. Several villagers have reportedly fled the village out of fear for their lives.
It is very unfortunate that even after 70 years of independence, streets are identified with singular communities living there. Despite living for more than hundreds of years together, we have not been able to integrate and assimilate. Police should take strict action against those who prevented the Dalit funeral processions from passing through the area. According to the Prevention of Atrocities (SC/ST) Act, discrimination against Dalits is a punishable offence.
We have not been able achieve communal harmony in the country because political parties always use appeasement politics to come to power. Even though Congress has tried to appease the Muslim population since India attained independence, there is still hardly any improvement in their socio-economic condition. Caste politics also plays its part in weakening the rule of law in the country, as evident from Lalu Yadav’s rule in Bihar. Caste politics and minority appeasement are weakening this country since its establishment. This is also because our laws do not have coherency, and our governments have not been able to enact and implement Uniform Civil Code (UCL) in the country. Our life is still ruled by personal laws like Hindu Marriage Act, Muslim Personal law etc.
The mainstream media is quick to point out majority vs minority angle in any incident of communal clashes. It is also habitual of the media to present caste violence in a juicy and sensational manner. This incident shows that communal clashes can happen between any two communities, even between two minorities.
Irrespective of the background of the communities, the Tamil Nadu police should take stern action against those that prevented the procession from passing through, and such incidents should not be allowed to manifest in the future.