The attack happened on July 9 at about 5.30 pm when Palani walked through the agricultural land belonging to Thirumalaisamy, a non-dalit, as it was a short cut to reach the next street. “As soon as Thirumalaisamy spotted me, he was furious and started threatening me. Though all villagers use the short cut through his land, Thirumalaisamy asked, how can a dalit walk on his land,” Palani told TOI over phone from the hospital bed.
“I retorted saying that the land will not be spoilt if a dalit walks on it. Immediately, Thirumalaisamy and his son Senthilkumar started beating me. They tied my hands behind and bound me to an iron pole. They then started attacking me with wooden logs. I have cut injuries on my head and my teeth are also broken,” Palani alleged.
The duo assaulted Palani until he fell unconscious 30 minutes later. Thirumalaisamy then called an ambulance to send him to hospital.
His wife P Lakshmi was allegedly driven away when she rushed there and questioned the non-dalits. Meanwhile, a police team from Thali reached the spot and arranged for Palani to be admitted to the Udumalpet Government Hospital.
“We have registered cases against Thirumalaisamy and Senthilkumar under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. But the two are on the run. We have formed special teams to nab them,” deputy superintendent of police A Kanageswari, Udumalpet sub-division, Tirupur district. “The non-dalits levelled allegations that Palani entered the land to steal a rooster. But we have found out that allegation is false,” she said.
There are about 100 dalit and 1,300 non-dalit families in Chinna Bommansalai. “Dalits are not treated as equals, but never in the past was a dalit beaten up so badly,” said S Rangasamy, an Arunthathiyar Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam functionary, who has planned to stage a protest against the attack on July 17.
In a similar incident that happened in Coimbatore on July 12, K Rajeswari (38), a dalit woman from Anna Nagar near Perur was beaten up for entering the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department’s land taken on lease by a non-dalit. Two men have been arrested and search is on for two more.