Thursday, November 13, 2008

The precursor to the next round of caste clashes in TN

"Clash between two groups of students in Dr. Ambedkar Law College, Chennai" scream the news paper headlines. Don't believe them, it wasn't a clash, it was a thrashing administered by a large group of students to the unlucky few of the other community with police force standing as mute spectators. This youtube video has the gory details. All the news channels in Tamil Nadu are running the video almost non stop.

But this doesn't look like a simple college fight. The news reports say that it was a fight between students of two communities - Scheduled Castes and Thevars. The Thevar community students had printed a poster for celebrating Thevar Jayanthi on Oct 30 mentioning simply Chennai Law College dropping the name of Dr.Ambedkar. This angered the SC students and this issue had been simmering for the past few days. Yesterday, after the semester exams, the SC students chased the few unlucky ones to get caught and hit them senseless. One of those being hit brandished a knife and tried to save himself, but was over powered by the other gang and hit till he almost died. This is what I gather from reading various tamil blogs and comments.

It is almost a given that this will lead to the next round of caste clashes in Tamil Nadu, especially the South. In the previous clash of 95-98, the statues of Dr. Ambedkar and Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar were damaged in many places, so much so that the Government decided to put a steel barricade protecting the statues. It was during that time the names of various leaders were dropped from Transport Corporation names (like Veeran Sundaralingam Transport Corporation) since the communities started burning the buses that bore their opponent community leader's name.

It is impossible to root out Caste from Tamilnadu.

Update: More details emerge about the clash. Apparently, the guy with the knife had stabbed / cut a dalit student earlier in the day. The dalit students were paying him back after the exams. Most of the TV Channels and newspapers seem to paper over the initial attacks. Now it makes sense why Jaya TV was running the campus violence video non stop. (Jaya TV is the official channel of ADMK which has slowly morphed into a Thevar dominated party since 1990s).


Sriram P said...

Not just Tamil Nadu.. but from all of India.. Issue of Dalits and wat not.. All these senseless Communal and religious clashes are hurting and diving this country... Everything is political and everything in politics is about money... who gets the pie of common man's tax money.. Rich dont pay tax or evade tax... poor dont have any money and middle bears all the burden of the rest and foot the bill for the big bungalows and nice cars and expensive vacations of these money and power thirsty politicans.. This is what India has become..
Its no longer about people or issues.. Its about who gets their hands on the money and high seat in politics.. and sad part is law hides behind the politicians and there is no order..

lucky said...


i thought that the students who were beaten belonged to SC communities?

Anonymous said...

My post follows. This is only a trial.

Chenthil said...

Lucky - the caste identity of the victim and the perpetrators seems to change from report to report. I first wrote based on the few comments I noticed beneath the youtube videos and one of the tamil blogs.

Krishnan said...

A little birdie told me that the policemen were strictly prohibited from taking any sort of action against that violence. It reminded me of Mudhalvan, but then this country being what it is, it might as well be true.

Anonymous said...

why its always between thevars and dalits ?

Anonymous said...

Yesterday (Nov. 14, 2008) I posted a lengthy comment here. It has not been published. May I know the reason ? Please don't waste my time & money.

Anonymous said...

One cannot but be perturbed when you see an incident like this happening at a place which is supposed to produce future law makers.

What distrubs me more is the increasing polarisation of caste in TN.I used to be very optimistic of the way the two party system functioned in our state.Deep sea and the devil might be the overused cliche of the cynical to describe these two but the stablilty offered by these not so unidentical ideologically inclined parties made it possible for TN to achieve excellence in administration.However as the results of the previous election shows they have to be dependent on groups who solely win on caste politics.The pandering might led to a telengana type demand couched on cultural or linguistic distinctiveness.These people who can never win a majority will resort to those type of demands.

Though many will not agree with me i personally feel the intermittent caste clashes and polarisation in our state polity is a reflection of failure of the dravidian movement


Anonymous said...

sri, isn't ramadass' vanniyar movement an example of the separatism you're predicting?

it's a failure of the dravidian movement to include dalits. my understanding is that the clashes in college (or in the countryside) are a result of the rising status of dalits. so as awful as this incident is, my optimism is not dented.

samurai said...

hi chenthil,
the answer to all of this is for a movement which burns the writings of manu.
it should be universally acclaimed that the writings of manu were fevered imaginations written under the influence of intoxicants.

it is not a failure of the dravidian movement but a reflection of how much more needs to be done and how strong the grasp of the vaishnavite fantasies remains on the people.

Anonymous said...


' sri, isn't ramadass' vanniyar movement an example of the separatism you're predicting '

Exactly.This 'saviour' of tamil culture will give both his hands and legs if a seperate north TN region were to be craved out

Grrrr my blood boils..


You have ignored the reality by engaging in hyperbole.If that were the case the people who came to power promising that would have done it easily.

If it had been an all encompassing movement there would have been no sub altern movements within it


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