By Sivaguru S  |    

A board announcing the new name of Dalit settlement in Thomsanapalli village near Anchetti in Krishnagiri district | Express

KRISHNAGIRI: The tentacles of untouchability often spread out in different ways. It would manifest in the form of two-tumbler system, denial of temple entry to the downtrodden in the society or even the address by which they are known.

Dalit settlements get referred to as colony or ‘cheri’ by caste Hindus. That was exactly what the Dalits of Anchetti in Krishnagiri decided to change this New Year as a first step to ensure equality.

Over 75 Adi Dravidar families live in Thomsanapalli village near Anchetti. The caste Hindus have been portraying the residential area as Adi Dravidar Colony, though people from different castes stayed there.
Also, there was no record suggesting that it was an Adi Dravidar settlement.

Breaking the stereotype, Dalits in the area decided to rename the  place as  Thiruvalluvar Nagar. Children from the locality inaugurated the new name.

“We chose a common name. It had no political or caste lineage.  Hence forth, we will call it Thiruvalluvar Nagar,” said Saravanan, one of the villagers.

Speaking to Express, writer Ravikumar D said the word ‘colony’ was nothing but a reference to colonisation as settlement.

“Also, the word ‘ghetto’ was used in the US to mark a few people as oppressed. Before the 18th century, the word ‘cheri’ was used for all sectors of people. It meant  joint living. Later, caste Hindus started using it as a way to discriminate upon Dalits,” Ravikumar said.

“The governments and local bodies also had a role to play in eliminating such things and in encouraging people to choose  new names for their streets. In Neyveli, a few streets have been named after birds among others. But, a few others hold names of caste leaders. The government should encourage community living by making many schemes available,” he said.

Over 60 years after independence, Dalit settlements are often in separate rural areas across the district. The government should take up projects and make efforts to bring them to live with people of other castes both in the cities and villages.

Though efforts like Samathuvapuram (a housing scheme for equality) were taken up, they were not full fledged, Ravikumar said.

The State government has been allocating Rs 10 lakh each for districts to identify caste-free village and for providing them with adequate funds. But the fund was not properly utilised, he rued.

In November last year, Express had visited the village and carried a report on how people in the area were feeling leftout and how government schemes were not being implemented in an efficient manner.