COMMENTARY

land titles and bear the cost of litigation and ancillary matters if they were to arise. The draft Land Titling Bill is not about updating land records. It is not about the accuracy of land records, but about its finality for purposes of determining encumbrances and saleability. It is about deciding on a means by which land may be easily dealt with in the market. The displaced, project affected and dispossessed and their advocates have been campaigning long and hard for a law that

will limit the coercive power of the state in taking over land. The LARR 2011 adopts some of the language and concerns from the sites of conflict. But, in beginning with the premise that land acquisition is inevitable and that industrialisation, urbanisation and infrastructure will have lexical priority, the LARR 2011 may have gained few friends among those whom involuntary acquisition has displaced, and those for whom rehabilitation has been about promises that have seldom been kept.

Notes
1 2 Ibid. See also, Butu Prasad Kumbhar vs SAIL ,1995 Supp 2, Supreme Court Cases, 225. Walter Fernandes and Vijay Paranjpye (1997), Rehabilitation Policy and Law in India: A Right to Livelihood, Indian Social Institute. Samatha vs State of Andhra Pradesh (1997) 8, Supreme Court Cases, 191. See for e g, Ashish Tripathi, “HC Quashes Acquisition of 600 Hectares of Land in Greater Noida”, dated 19 July 2011 found at http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2011-07-19/noida/29790 697_1_urgency-clause-land-acquisition-act-greater -noida-authority. See, for instance, Requisitioning and Acquisition of Immovable Property Act 1952.

3 4

5

Paramakudi Violence: Against Dalits, Against Politics
Muthukaruppan Parthasarathi

The killing of six dalits in police firing in Paramakudi in September again exposes the manner in which state institutions work to enforce the social dominance of certain castes. In the southern districts of Tamil Nadu there is an upsurge within dalit castes, but there is also a continuing complicity between the dominant castes, political parties and state institutions to beat this back.

T

he police killing on 11 September of six dalits on the 54th memorial day of Immanuel Sekaran in Paramakudi town of Ramanathapuram district in southern Tamil Nadu (TN) once again demonstrated the casteist nature of state institutions and the Government of TN.

Immanuel Memorial and Police Violence
Immanuel (1924-57) is considered to be the first leader to dedicate his life in the struggle against caste oppression in postIndependence TN. Back from the Indian Army in 1952, Immanuel involved himself in revolutionary activity against caste oppression and organised Pallar youth in Ramanathapuram district.1 The period 1952-57 in Immanuel’s life was marked by a series of militant activities against untouchability. During this time he also organised a number of conferences and public meetings against caste discrimination. He associated himself with both the Depressed Classes League and the Tamil Evangelical Lutheran Church. He became a nightmare for the upper castes, especially for the Maravars of Ramanathapuram district. It is widely believed that a day after his confrontation with Muthuramalingam in a peace meeting called by the district collector over some local dispute, hit men of Muthuramalingam murdered Immanuel on 11 September 1957.2 Immanuel’s death
november 5, 2011

Muthukaruppan Parthasarathi (sharathisharathi@gmail.com) teaches cultural studies at the English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad.

resulted in the Mudukulathur riots, a clash between the Devendirars and Thevars that lasted for a few weeks. Though there has been a rivalry between Devendirars and Thevars since Mudukulathur riots, it cannot be reduced simply to a caste feud; rather this is rooted in the dialectics of the Devendirars’ revolt against the domination of the Thevars. From 1958 onwards the Devendirars in the Paramakudi region started gathering at Immanuel’s burial place to conduct a memorial at the taluk level. By 1969, the memorial had started attracting a substantial number of Pallar youth and students from the Ramanathapuram district. The formation of the Thiyagi Immanuel Peravai (TIP), a dalit movement for the annihilation of caste by P Chandrabose in 1988, paved the way for a routine and larger gathering on memorial day. The memorial also attracted the Devendirars from Sivagangai, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and a few nearby districts. The memorial gained larger mobilisation only after 2007, the 50th anniversary of Immanuel’s death. Now it has become an event in which several political parties and organisations participate. There were certain significant developments a few weeks before the day of the present Paramakudi police killings. Generally, there seems to be hostility and distaste among the Thevars towards the growing popularity of the Immanuel memorial day. The release of John Pandian (jp) after 10 years of imprisonment and the victory of the Puthiya Tamilagam (PT) party in two assembly constituencies have added fuel to Thevar hostility.3 The demand that the Immanuel Memorial should be conducted by the State has been pushed by dalit forces. The fact-finding
EPW Economic & Political Weekly

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vol xlvI nos 44 & 45

These are the “initiatives” taken by the State in TN to keep this community under control. 2011 A Case for Reframing the Cash Transfer Debate in India Mexico’s Targeted and Conditional Transfers: Between Oportunidades and Rights Brazil’s Bolsa Família: A Review Conditional Cash Transfers as a Tool of Social Policy Cash Transfers as the Silver Bullet for Poverty Reduction: A Sceptical Note PDS Forever? Impact of Biometric Identification-Based Transfers The Shift to Cash Transfers: Running Better But on the Wrong Road? – Sudha Narayanan – Pablo Yanes – Fabio Veras Soares – Francesca Bastagli – Jayati Ghosh – Ashok Kotwal. Bharat Ramaswami – Arka Roy Chaudhuri. Dalit activists and writers at the site claim that police set fire to the vehicles and stones were being pelted. Dalit organisations allege that the entire episode was preplanned and was an attempt to suppress the assertion of the dalits. More than 30 people were severely injured and six were killed. The false cases framed on Devendirars around the 1989 Bodi riots were closed only a couple of years ago. civil and human rights collectives have condemned the brutal acts. The fact-finding reports (FFRs) have conclusively shown these allegations to be baseless. Lower Parel. unofficially. considered a “violent community”. The police claimed that they had to resort to firing because the protesters were pelting stones and setting fire to vehicles. looting property.000 for those killed and ordered a judicial enquiry.000. the Thevars alleged that Palanikumar wrote “Muthuramalingam Thevar was a eunuch” on the wall.in vol xlvI nos 44 & 45 november 5. Devendirar villages have been blacklisted by the police and the community is. Without any provocation. PERSPECTIVES ON CASH TRANSFERS May 21. Several civil and human rights organisations.COMMENTARY teams which went to investigate the police firing point to the notice of the Appanadu Maravar Sangam circulated among Thevars which asked for a plan to spoil the Immanuel memorial and also to prevent the Pallar attempts to make it a governmentsponsored celebration. Economic and Political Weekly. he obeyed the orders and went back. JP was arrested by the police and prevented from attending the memorial. Violence of Conditions The Paramakudi violence was not accidental nor was it due to efforts at restoring law and order by the police. police opened fire on the people straightaway without first trying out any other method such as lathi-charge or tear gas. not by dalits but. Ganpatrao Kadam Marg. Police looting of the dalit hamlets increased after the Bodi riots of 1989 (Human Rights Watch 2001: 102-12). Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Krishnasamy staged a walkout from the assembly with a few other MLAs when he was not given an opportunity to raise the issue. On 7 September Maravar advocates of Paramakudi. Media reports have mostly reproduced the police statements justifying police action. 87-94). beating men and foisting false cases. Policing the community has drastically increased after 1989. by the policemen themselves in mufti. non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other collectives of public interest have come up with ffrs condemning the wanton police action and the fabrications by the media. with the help of local police and revenue authorities. Jayalalithaa has announced a compensation of Rs 1. They have also pointed out that some of the high level police officers. as the media reported. The strength of the police force at the site was around 2. This year 16-year old Palanikumar of Pallapacheri village was killed by the Maravars of Mandalamanikkam village on 9 September. It has been a routine practice of the TN police to enter Devendirar villages and destroy their properties and unleash cruel violence on the inhabitants (Viswanathan 2005: 156-62. Similar firings took place at two other places – Chinthamani and Ilayangudi – on the same day. abusing women and children. On 11 September. Several political parties and organisations. E Somanathan – Devesh Kapur For copies write to: Circulation Manager. On 10 September police refused jp permission to visit Pallapacheri. She also justified the killing of Palanikumar saying that it was the result of his graffiti on the wall defaming Muthuramalingam Thevar. Rumours also spread that the police had planned an “encounter” with JP. Later. were known for their anti-dalit Economic & Political Weekly EPW activities.4 Consequently it led to more flex boards of that kind and the local authorities were annoyed by the “disobedience” of the Devendirars. The issue needs to be viewed in the context of the frequent incidents of violence by the State on the Devendirars in southern TN. It has been a pattern for the past few years that the Thevars indulge in violence against the dalits every year during the Immanuel memorial celebrations. The Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa justified the police action by saying that they had resorted to firing to prevent John Pandian and his men from rioting. Even the community leaders have been framed in criminal cases and the Devendirars’ attempts to participate in democratic politics have been repressed. email: circulation@epw. Mumbai 400 013. It has also been reported that the flex boards of Immanuel were torn by Thevars in many places across TN. who had been especially deployed for the Immanuel memorial day celebrations. 320-321. Milind Murugkar. Some of the dalit organisations are demanding an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and action against the guilty police officials under the SC/ST Atrocity Act. removed the flex boards carrying the title “Deivathirumagan” put up by SC/ST transport corporation employees. A to Z Industrial Estate. 2011 15 . Police in the region are notorious for extorting.00. around 30 party members of the Tamilaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) demanded the release of JP and staged a protest at the five-point junction of Paramakudi.

in the late colonial period. ISBN: 978-81-212-1130-7. 540 India and the New World Order T. 2006. Rs. 1995. Caste. The history of TN. 300pp. Violence has become an inevitable part of dalit life in southern TN. Brettany 978-81-7835-318-0. november 5. 23 MAIN ANSARI ROAD.Nov 2011 . 2011. Liberalization and Structural Change: India and Hungary R. Sanjay Ambatkar 978-81-212-0522-0. 531 India’s Foreign Policy and its Neighbours J. This also signifies the dalits’ moving away from Dravidian parties. Cambodia. Economic and Strategic Linkages Satish Chandra & Baladas Ghosal The book examines in detail the emerging economic links between India and countries of Southeast Asia and the problems facing Corporate India to meet the challenge posed by the Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). That is to suggest that the change in the nature of the State would have a more transformative effect than the change of governments. 750 Challenges to India’s Foreign Policy in the New Era Annapurna Nautiyal 978-81-212-0889-0. too violent. the institution of the police...gyanbooks. Rs. Rs. Across the southern districts of TN. Arnold (1976: 3-16) has shown that the transformation of sovereignty in 1947 did not produce any change in the nature and function of the (Madras) police that was loyal to landlords and propertied classes. Rs. Though the Congress managed to control the Mudukulathur riots that erupted after the murder of Immanuel in 1957. (Chatterjee 2010: 3-15). Chechnya M. 23261060 FAX: 91-11-23285914 E-mail: books@gyanbooks. It has been argued that given the dominance of upper castes in the police force.P. IFS 978-81-212-0726-6.. 300pp. Vanita Roy. DARYA GANJ. Sharma. the subsequent police killings of five Maravars in Keelathuval village were brutal and unwarranted. The growing partnership between India and ASEAN about strategic needs of the region including the western Pacific.com EPW Economic & Political Weekly 16 vol xlvI nos 44 & 45 The schedule for advt-3 is: Advt-3 . is brutal and the possibilities for an excess of violence are always present. self-respecters and labour activists. Rs... One of the defining features of the 1990s is the coincidence of the rise of dalits as a political force and the increased violence on dalits (Satyanarayana and Tharu 2011: 1-69). rigid and constraining for dalits to be able to conduct emancipatory politics. Rs. The Congress. 361pp. especially the police (HRW: 86-87). 2001. what needs to be understood is that it is not a new development in TN.. 364pp. both at the party level and in their governments.1st week . Rs. Rs. Arnold has also pointed to the cases where dalits were repressed by the police when they revolted against the landlords and their poor material conditions. West Bengal. The colonial and oppressive nature of police has always been used by the ruling classes to monitor and curb the political activities of the oppressed groups.R.. 230pp. by its very nature. The representatives from the reserved constituencies were kept under strict party control. Dixit 978-81-212-0785-1. 455 Genesis of Regional Conflicts: Kashmir. Imre Levai 978-81-212-0575-1.. at least for the past three decades. The Dravidian parties. In this book. the nature of the police institution needs a historical understanding.N. There are two issues which need to be understood. India’s Look East Policy (LEP) has led to a rediscovery of India’s cultural and economic relations with countries of Southeast Asia. one has to pay attention to the history of class/caste interest and how it is played out in administering state power.. Rs.110002 PHONES: 23282060. 720 Rise of Terrorism and Secessionism in Eurasia V. 540 The People of Asia G. Even in exceptional cases. Kaul 978-81-212-0649-9. 334pp. 390pp. 2011 JUST RELEASED India and South-East Asia Cultural. 2000. Though the deadly police violence against dalits is erupting on and off. the questions related to governments are of great importance. 2007. 690 Economic Reforms. Dixit. That practice was continued by its successors.. It has been noted that the basic apparatus of governmental administrative structure is drawn directly from the colonial structures.. Chopra 978-81-212-0738-X. the distinction between upper caste violence and state violence is of no theoretical relevance (Roberts 2010). 660 The Sakyans of South-East Asia: An Introspection or Tracing Roots S. 1996. brutality never fails to show itself.T. NEW DELHI. The basic structures of civil and criminal law and the Indian armed forces have been derived largely from the colonial period. Governments and the State Dalits strongly believe that the Thevars have engineered the police killings with the support of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (AIADMK) government. In the assembly. 2006.Right hand position . shows that police violence on dalits or the collaboration of the police with the upper castes against dalits are closely tied with the rise of an independent dalit political leadership. Jayalalithaa’s justification of the police firing and arrests of dalit youth across the region has strengthened this perception of the dalits. 540 India and ASEAN: Economic Partnership in the 1990s and Future Prospects Shri Parkash.N. or have been made. Nirmala Devi 978-81-212-0930-7. GYAN GYAN KUNJ. 250pp. dalit movements are not allowed to conduct any public protest and police have objected to any democratic protest condemning the recent Paramakudi police firing. 310pp. Apart from curbing political activities. privileged the dominant castes and kept the lower castes as vote banks. Afganistan. First. Second. Rasgotra 978-81-212-050-6. Talukdar 978-81-212-0878-5. 375 India and Bay of Bengal Community: The BIMSTEC Experiment T. especially mobilisation politics. Rs. 1997. where the police is used to protect the weaker sections. 340pp. 2006.COMMENTARY There have been reports from Paramakudi that large numbers of dalit men are thus framed in police and legal cases. 256pp. 2001. and the prospects of growing an arc light of peace and prosperity of the region are also examined. 2004.D.com www. Conditions have become.. Are governments capable of democratising state institutions that are clearly oppressive? Since governments largely function within the given frames of state institutional structures it hardly seems a possibility. Though one may not believe in conspiracy theories. They recruited the dominant castes more into the power structure.N. Independence did not constitute an event of structural transformation. organisations and parties. used the police force to curb the activities of communists. 540 Distributed by: GYAN BOOKS PVT. The present volume tries to deepen this interaction by exploring the nature of the cultural and economic relations between India and the countries of this region not only in the past but their essential relevance to the present. 740 India and Regional Development: Through the Prism of Indo-Pak Relations J. MSS Pandian (2000) has a useful account of the AIADMK’s public collaboration with Thevar groups in oppressing the dalits. 334pp. particularly police power. LTD. Rs. Rs.

). His rise as a dalit leader in the 1980s coincides with the rise of dalit assertion in southern districts. largely of the Devendirars. However. Dalit Politics of Recognition? Given that class and caste are intimately interwoven in TN’s agricultural land relations. Violence and the State: Writing Tamil Dalits”. but rather disagreement and conflict at the heart of its politics. It also bears the meaning of a divine persona. Issue 16. Frontline. it is a verification of equality. both recognition and redistribution questions are deeply interconnected and inseparable. become a part of NGO activism and advocacy. Mobilisation as part of the politics of recognition has been gaining momentum among the dalits of south TN. M S S (2000): “Dalit Assertion in Tamil Nadu: An Exploratory Note”. The response of the then chief minister K Karunanidhi to the Thamiraparani police killings was no less virulent and openly biased towards Thevars than Jayalalithaa’s recent statements in the assembly justifying the Paramakudi violence. he associated himself with Forward Bloc Party and preached Hindu spirituality and authoritarian politics. Veeran Sundaralingam. Its president K Krishnasamy is anothor leader with a mass following. He was arrested in the Immanuel murder case but was later acquitted. 2 3 4 References Chatterjee. It is also worthy of note that when Arunthaiyars (another scheduled caste community) adopted the title Mamannan. The DMK is no exception from the upholding of Thevar interests or unleashing the police against the Devendirars (Viswanathan 2005 and Viswanathan and Syed Muthahar Saqaf 1999). Pandian. Notes 1 Pallars are a scheduled caste community largely located in the southern districts of TN. They are mainly agricultural labourers. 2011 17 . its relation with material resources are subtle. But the Devendirar community constantly contests this media/state manufactured image and affirms him as a leader and fighter against caste and untouchability. Kilvenmani mobilisations of agricultural labourers in Thanjavur district and the consequent massacre in 1968 is a classic case illustrating this point. July-December. vellalar in Tamil means people who involve in agriculture/cultivation. It is primarily about the claim to symbolic equality and to ensure that public spaces are common.COMMENTARY However. 31 July. In a way. As an oppositional force to communists and congressmen of his time. Culture and Politics. one can clearly see the politics of recognition emerging parallel to dalit arguments for the redistribution of material resources. Human Rights Watch (1999): Broken People (Bangalore: Books for Change). Thevar groups praised the Thamiraparani killings as “maintaining law and order” and it was so reported in the newspapers too (Viswanathan 2005: 135). There was also the Devendirar demand for a transport corporation to be named after the historical figure. For an insightful interpretation of the lineage of Devendirars and Buddhism by Ravikumar see the introduction in Viswanathan (2005). the use of new titles and names also has another intent. This to say that the Dravidian parties and governments. Roberts. It is precisely this kind of politics that is under attack by the State. It needs to be understood against the background of the century-old practices of caste in constraining and regulating dalit bodies and not allowing them to have their place in the public. Dalit politics is aware that the struggle against caste is simultaneously a fight against the caste interests of both state and society. Viswanathan S and Syed Muthahar Saqaf (1999): “The Tirunelveli”. K and Susie Tharu (2011): No Alphabet in Sight: New Dalit Writings from South India (New Delhi: Penguin). Partha (2010): “The State” in Pratap Bhanu Mehta and Neeraja Gopal Jayal (ed. The reception of the dalit presence in the public is seen by both state institutions and the upper castes in a similar manner and vol xlvI nos 44 & 45 they both respond in similar ways. most labour mobilisations mostly amount to dalit mobilisation. he avoids any discussion of the police killing of 17 people that happened in 1997 during the Dravida Munnetra Kazagham (DMK) regime. Journal of Indian School of Political Economy: 12:3-4. they are meant to counter the Thevar use of these terms with reference to Muthuramalingam Thevar. these symbolic demands are going to serve as the basis for dalit mobilisations for a long time to come. in short redistribution of resources. There was an opposition from both Thevars and the police against the use of these titles for Immanuel in Paramakudi. 13 August. In a situation where dalit politics has. The Puthiya Tamilagam is a dalit party. State police and the media have projected him as a criminal by separating his persona from the socio-political cause he is fighting for. The Oxford Companion to Politics in India. Vol 16. There has been a demand from the Devendirars that since Immanuel was a freedom fighter and social activist who sacrificed his life for the cause of equality. As early as the late colonial period they called themselves Devendirar kula vellalars. meaning emperor. John Pandian (or JP as he is popularly known) is the supremo of the TMMK which represents an assertive leadership against the inequalities of caste. Ravikumar (2009): Venomous Touch: Notes on Caste. OUP. This trajectory of dalit politics and its mobilisational dimension seem not to have principles of consensus and resolution as the driving force. The celebration of Immanuel’s memorial day is more of a political mobilisation for equality. he politically mobilised Thevars. Muthuramalinga Thevar (1908-63) was a Thevar leader of Ramanathapuram district. the title generally refers to someone who attained god and is very commonly used in Tamil to refer to ancestors. Another demand is that Madurai airport should be named after Immanuel. The caste Thevar is a broader category which refers to a cluster of castes including Maravars. Social Scientist. This struggle for symbolic equality Economic & Political Weekly EPW and recognition has intensified after the late 1980s. the last three decades have shown how Devendirars have been resisting police and upper caste violence and on occasion how they have been forced to take recourse to violent modes of resistance. play an active role in the violence on dalits. to some extent. Arnold (1976): “The Police and Colonial Control in South India”. pp 3-16. Agamudayars. Though in the Paramakudi incident there was no violence from the Devendirars. Vol 4. the Gurupooja of Immanuel should be conducted by the TN state. The Immanuel memorial mobilisation is different from all these and it is a move towards symbolic equality and recognition. However. and Kallars. The latter is an instance for symbolic recognition. Viswanathan. Ravikumar’s (2009: 109) comparison of Karunanidhi with Manuneethi Cholan (an ancient king who carefully observed the laws of Manu) is worth mentioning here. The mobilisational dimension in certain ways has the potential to overcome the state’s standard method of addressing social issues through a policy regime. South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal. Deivathirumagan. Such mobilisations may not be contained by any of the developmental programmes of the State or depoliticised by neo-liberal and NGO forces. for the historical icon Ondiveeran there was similar opposition from the upper castes. The Thamiraparani mobilisation in 1997 was also based on labour issues of the Manjolai tea estate. in general. land and other material resources. S (2005): Dalits in Dravidian Land (Pondichery: Navayana). Satyanarayana. Nathanial (2010): “Language. No 12 (July). november 5. the politics of mobilisation seem to rejuvenate the militant trajectory of dalit politics. trns R Azhagarasan (Calcutta: Samya). Given the nature of such demands and the history of the symbolic role played by both Ambedkar and Immanuel statues in the previous instances of violence across southern TN. David. The earlier instances cited are of mobilisations for wages.

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