Sunday, June 21, 2009

We had to be violent’

Last Updated : 15 Nov 2008 10:09:21 AM IST

CHENNAI": “We were just like any other student when we entered the portals of the law college. If students of New College or Loyola are not conscious of their caste and we are, you (media) should examine the reasons rather than point a finger against caste Hindus when it com es to a Dalit issue. Do you think our parents injected caste feelings into our blood?” It was a final year student, Ashwathaman, venting his feelings when asked why students of Dr Ambedkar Government Law College were divided on caste lines.
Candid about the fact that everyone was aware of everyone’s caste identity, students of a caste Hindu community said the first thing they were asked as soon as they entered the college on the first day was: “What is your caste?” Ragging was based on caste. “The ragging I endured in their hands cannot be put on print and homosexual assault was the least of our worries,’’ said Satish, a final year student.
Vehemently opposing being termed as a caste Hindu, Muthukoo dalingam, a final year student, said: “Yes, we are Thevars. There are also Vanniyars, Yadavas, Nadars and Naidus among others castes and a large number of Christians and even Muslims. We are all united against the violence they perpetrate on us. Just because the college is named after Dr Ambedkar does not mean that they run the college or can get away with several acts of violence.” Asked why they omitted ‘Dr Ambedkar’ from the name of the college in the posters, Muthukoodalingam said Dalit students beat him up last year, when he was an organiser of ‘Thevar Jeyanthi’ celebrations in the college, for printing the name. “This year, they created problems becase we left out the name.” Other students contradicted him. Even last year, ‘Dr Ambedkar’ was omitted but the clash that broke out was not publicised.
Caste Hindu students said the attack on non-SC students in the hostel last year landed 30 of them in hospital with injuries and forced students to seek transfer to other colleges. Now, the hostel was completely for Dalits.
“We had to be violent as the college authorities turned a blind eye to our problems. Nobody wanted to be branded as anti-Dalits. Proof of which is that no action has been taken by the college against erring students in the last many years. If the college principal had taken steps three years ago, then the violence would have not escalated to such levels,” says Ashwathaman

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