2012 Dharmapuri violence

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On November 7, 2012, over 200 houses were torched in Natham, old and new Kondampatti and Annanagar Dalit colonies in Dharmapuri district, Tamil Nadu. When a Vanniyar girl from Sellankottai village, and a Dalit boy, from the neighbouring Dalit colony of Natham, fled due to parental opposition to get married, a caste panchayat held on the morning of November 7 by leaders from both communities ruled that the girl be returned to her family. Distraught at her decision to stay with her husband, her father, who worked at a cooperative bank, allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself. The discovery of his body later that day is said to have provoked a 1,500-strong mob to rampage through Natham and two smaller Dalit settlements, Kondampatti and Anna Nagar, where it set ablaze over 200 houses, damaged at least 50 others, and allegedly looted valuables and cash worth lakhs of rupees. The mob rampaged for four hours and was brought under control after arrest of 90 men and an additional deployment of 1000 policemen.[1]

While Ramadoss, belonging to PMK party, had rubbished allegations that his party orchestrated the incident, many Dalits believe otherwise. Also, his party is said to have fomented tension between Vanniyars and Dalits by publicly condemning marriages between the two.[2] However, there is no evidence that the PMK played any role in the attack.[2]

Many of the victims had blamed the fecklessness of the police and the district administration as this was a planned incident where a caste mob had been mobilised from 22 neighbouring villages. Though around 300 policemen were present on the spot anticipating trouble, they failed to control the violent gathering as the mob was eight times higher than the number of deployed forces.[3][4] The Sub-inspector of Police, belonging to same caste of boy, and the constables responsible for maintaining peace in the area have since been transferred or suspended.[4]


The population of Vanniyars, an intermediate caste inhabiting parts of northern Tamil Nadu, is estimated at 12-13per cent, while the Adidravidas (Dalits) constitute about 11.5 per cent. With the collapse of Naxalism, the people, once monolithic in their opposition to untouchability and discrimination, were now lured by caste identities and the promise of power. Thus began a disquieting era where Dalits were made vulnerable by radicalised groups and Vanniyars turned sanctimonious about their perceived position in society. So, there were regularly clashes between the Vanniyars and Dalits.[5] In April 2012, Pattali Makkal Katchi party MLA, Kaduvetti Guru incited caste fanaticism when he asked the members of community to kill men from other community who marry Vanniyar community women at a Vanniyar youth meeting held in Mamallapuram.[6][7][8]


As many as 268 dwellings of Dalits (of the Adi Dravida community) near Naikkankottai in Dharmapuri district were torched by the higher-caste group.[9] The victims have alleged that ‘systematic destruction’ of their properties and livelihood resources has taken place. Around 1500 who were homeless after the incident were put up in a ground nearby and were provided food and clothing [10] and also sanctioned Rs 50,000 as relief from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.[11] The affected people staged a fast demanding Chief Minister to visit the affected areas and to increase compensation.[12]


  • Members of National Commission for Scheduled Castes after visiting the colonies blamed the attitude of the state police for failing to control the violence and stated that rise in status of Dalits are not tolerated by dominant caste Hindus which results in incidents of violence.[13] They also alleged that the violence was a well-organized and planned attack on Dalits and not a spontaneous anguish over a single incident of suicide.[14]
  • Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, a Dalit-based political party demanded a CBI probe into the incident as it did not have faith in local police inquiry.[15] VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan compared the incidents to 1990s Kodiyankulam violence where the main reason for the violence was upward mobility of Dalits in economic, educational, political fronts.[16]
  • Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam party constituted a fact finding committee came out with a report which stated

The attack was a planned one. Inter-caste love marriage was not the sole reason behind it. Rather, the attack was the result of a chain of events. The PMK functionaries are found to have instigated and carried out the attacks. While the police is yet to arrest all the culprits behind the attack, they have booked a few innocents who are not connected with the incident

It also blamed the state government for not taking enough steps to restore normalcy or implementing relief measures.[17]

  • Communist Party of India (Marxist) MLAs K. Balakrishnan, P. Dillibabu and K. Bheema Rao visited the affected people to console and provide relief materials. They told the attack which seem to be well planned could not be prevented because of Intelligence failure and failure to keep a check on Kangaroo courts and demanded police to take action against those responsible under SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act [18]
  • Bharatiya Janata Party in Tamil Nadu said that the government has failed to check increasing incidents of breakdown of law and order and the police are not given full power to deal with it.[19]
  • PMK founder S. Ramadoss came out with 'staged love marriages' happening in the state where Dalit men lure Vanniyar women claiming to be in love and later duping them, ask for a ransom after marriage through Kangaroo courts. This was seen as a budding parallel to Love Jihad[20] He also stated the mob that indulged in violence was cutting across castes / party lines unlike mentioned in sections of media / parties as mainly consisting of Vanniyar / PMK men.[21] He also formed an alliance of caste Hindu organizations against Dalit assertion.[22][23] asking for amendment to prevent the misuse of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and a ban on intercaste marriages which was opposed by VCK and rationalist groups like Dravidar Kazhagam.[24]

Probe and court proceedings[edit]

The Tamil Nadu government transferred the probe from local police to Crime Branch CID.[25] More than 90 persons were arrested and cases were filed against over 200 people.[1] The Madras High Court has stated the incident as serious and instructed the state authorities to submit a status report and the counter affidavit on that date.[11] A PIL was filed seeking the suspension of District collector and Superintendent of police for inaction.[26] On 3 December 2012, The district collector told the court that adequate relief measures were provided to victims and steps have been taken to maintain law and order in the area. The Superintendent of Police said cases have been registered and 142 people have been arrested.[27] High Court termed the relief insufficient and ordered the state to provide a relief of 7.32 crore.[28] A fresh PIL was filed asking for effective monitoring of offenses under SC-ST act and transfer the probe to CBI. The petition was posted along with the other petitions in the case.[29] Tamil Nadu govt then declared solatium to individuals were ready to the tune of 7.32 crore as per court order.[30] On Feb 9 2013, 91 people including some of whom who were falsely arrested for passing by near the violence area were let off and asked to appear before the CBCID.[31] On March 29, the high court gave bail to 28 accused in the case.[32]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b K A Shaji, TNN; V Senthil Kumaran; Karthick S (9 November 2012). "Inter-caste marriage sparks riot in Tamil Nadu district, 148 dalit houses torched". Times of India. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  2. ^ a b http://www.indianexpress.com/news/love-and-violence-in-dharmapuri/1035856/2o
  3. ^ http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-11-08/coimbatore/34993610_1_dalit-boy-dalit-houses-caste-violence
  4. ^ a b "Love and violence in Dharmapuri - Indian Express". Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  5. ^ Warrier, Shobha. "The Rediff Interview/R Thirumalvalavan". Rediff. Rediff. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  6. ^ Chakra. "வெட்டி தள்ளுங்க..: சாதி உணர்வை தூண்டிய காடுவெட்டி குரு மீது மாமல்லபுரம் போலீஸ் வழக்குப்பதிவு". OneIndia. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Double disadvantage". Archived from the original on 13 May 2014. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  8. ^ "Why I want to ask disturbing questions and say the unsaid". Archived from the original on 27 March 2016. Retrieved 9 December 2016. ...Kaduvetti Guru has repeatedly been broadcasting this message. At a Chitra Pournami event in Mahabalipuram addressing Vanniyar youth, Guru openly exhorted that men of other castes marrying Vanniyar women should be killed.
  9. ^ "Dalit houses torched, caste violence in Dharmapuri". Times of India. 8 November 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2013.
  10. ^ "தர்மபுரி: வீடு எரிக்கப்பட்ட தாழ்த்தப்பட்ட மக்கள் வெட்ட வெளியில்". BBC Tamil. 9 November 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  11. ^ a b SANGAMESWARAN, K. T. (10 November 2012). "Dharmapuri incident serious: HC". The Hindu. Retrieved 30 April 2013.
  12. ^ "Dharmapuri dalits on hunger strike, wants CM to visit, CBI probe". The Times Of India. 2012-11-29. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  13. ^ "SC panel blames police for Dharmapuri violence". The New Indian Express. 2012-11-27. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  14. ^ R. Arivanantham (2012-11-12). "Attack on Dalits was planned: National Commission for SCs". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  15. ^ "VCK wants CBI probe into Dharmapuri violence". Zee News. 2012-11-25. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  16. ^ D. Karthikeyan (2012-11-23). "Dalits being targeted because of their upward economic mobility, say leaders". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  17. ^ "DMK fact-finding committee points a finger at PMK". The Hindu. 2012-11-23. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  18. ^ "CPI (M) MLAs visit Dalit colonies". The Hindu. 2012-11-11. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  19. ^ "People will take to streets if govt fails to check". Zee News. 2012-11-09. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  20. ^ "PMK's anti-Dalit rant in TN resembles Kerala's 'love jihad' theory - Firstpost". 3 December 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  21. ^ News, Express. "Ramadoss joins issue with VCK on Dharmapuri violence". The New Indian Express. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  22. ^ B. Kolappan (2012-12-02). "Ramadoss consolidates intermediate caste groups against Dalits". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  23. ^ "Gounder groups join Paattali Makkal Katchi's platform against inter-caste marriages". The Times Of India. 2012-12-22. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  24. ^ "In Tamil Nadu, after caste violence cupid enters political discourse". India Today. 2012-11-20. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  25. ^ PTI (2012-11-16). "Dharmapuri violence: probe transferred to CB-CID". The Hindu. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  26. ^ "Dharmapuri violence: PIL seeks suspension of collector and SP". The Times Of India. 2012-11-22. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  27. ^ "Dharmapuri violence: Dalit victims provided with relief - Firstpost". 3 December 2012. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
  28. ^ "HC terms TN relief for Dalits in Dharmapuri insufficient". Indian Express. 2013-01-11. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  29. ^ "PIL seeks effective monitoring of offences against SCs/STs". In.com. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  30. ^ "Dharmapuri violence: TN govt tells HC solatium is ready". Business Standard. 2013-01-31. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  31. ^ "91 held for Dharmapuri violence walk free". The New Indian Express. 2013-02-09. Retrieved 2013-05-16.
  32. ^ "HC grants bail to 28 accused in Dharmapuri caste violence". Deccan Chronicle. 2012-11-07. Retrieved 2013-05-16.