In a shocking display of caste discrimination, two women belonging to the dominant Gounder community were arrested for serving tea in coconut shells to Dalit individuals in Dharmapuri district. The incident, which occurred in Polyampalayam village, has reignited concerns over the prevalence of caste-based discrimination in Tamil Nadu despite its claims of social justice and a casteless society under the Dravidian model.
According to the complaint filed by G Selli, a 50-year-old woman from the Scheduled community and a farm labourer, she and several other Dalit residents of the village were served tea in coconut shells by the two accused women. Selli stated that this was not an isolated incident, as similar acts had occurred in previous years.
Furthermore, allegations have surfaced regarding the widespread use of the double tumbler system, which segregates Dalits from non-Dalits in southern districts despite being banned by the state. Reports of discrimination against Dalits in temples and workplaces have also emerged, although these claims are denied by upper-caste Hindus.
Following the complaint, the Kambainallur police arrested the two accused women, identified as Chinnathayee and Dharani, under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on February 9th. Police officials confirmed that several witnesses had corroborated the complaint, stating that the accused served tea in coconut shells while the Dalits were working in agricultural fields.
The duo has been booked under sections 3(1)(r) of the SC/ST Act of 2015, and an inquiry into the incident is currently underway. The arrest has sparked outrage and renewed calls for action against caste-based discrimination, highlighting the ongoing challenges faced by Dalit communities in Tamil Nadu.