SALEM,April 20, 2012

Special Correspondent, The Hindu

The “untouchability Wall” was demolished in Narasothipatti in Salem on Thursday. Photo: E.Lakshmi Narayanan

It prevented 300 Arundathiar families from using a road laid by Corporation

The wall that separated Dalits of Senkodan Nagar in Narasothipatti in Ward 3 here from others was demolished on Thursday.

On instructions from Collector K. Maharabushanam, a team of officials from Revenue and Police Departments and Salem Municipal Corporation visited the spot and assessed the situation after The Hindu carried a report on the 10-feet-long and 5-feet high “wall of untouchability” that was erected right across the tar-topped 20-feet road in Meenakshi Nagar, where caste Hindus live.

The wall had prevented 300 Arundathiar families living in Senkodan Nagar next to Meenakshi Nagar, from using the road that was laid by Salem Corporation some 30 years ago. RDO S. Prasanna Ramasamy told The Hindu that the wall should not have been erected across the road. “Our Collector personally supervised the whole issue and wanted us to sort it out as per law,” he said.

A team of officials from Salem Corporation led by Executive Engineer A. Asokan pasted a warning notice on the wall at 11 am on Thursday telling those who erected the wall to demolish it before 4 p.m. “Otherwise, the Corporation will demolish it and collect demolition charge from the persons concerned,” it warned.

But till 4 p.m., nobody had turned up to demolish the wall. Therefore, the civic body under Section 256 of the Salem Municipal Corporation Act 1994 pulled it down with the help of earthmover.

Meanwhile, tension mounted in the locality with members of the Salem unit of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Committee, Bahajun Samaj Party and other Dalit outfits demanding immediate demolition of the wall. They warned that they would take up the task of demolishing the wall if the Corporation failed to do so. Heavy police pickets were posted at the site to prevent any untoward incident.

S. Palanisamy, who took up the wall issue, said that more than 300 Arundathiar Dalit families of Senkodan Nagar had been using the road for the past three decades. “But the controversial wall came up all in a sudden and prevented us from using it,” he said.