In the last week of December 2022, children of a village in Tamil Nadu, Vengaivasal (Pudukkottai district) started falling sick.
The doctor who treated them expressed doubts about the quality of water.
Meanwhile, a few residents had noticed a light yellow colour in the water.
The residents belong to a Scheduled Caste — Arundatiyar. They have a separate overhead tank. When the water tank was checked, it was found that human excreta had been mixed in their water.
The dominant communities in Tamil Nadu have displayed not infrequently an inhuman hatred towards the scheduled communities.
Arundatiyar is a community that derives its name from the wife of none other than Vasishta, and they have been compelled by jaati systems to do 'hygiene' works.
They dominantly speak Telugu. Of the dominant scheduled communities, Arundatiyar are thus doubly disadvantaged. They are both marginalised and are a minority.
The dominant castes of Tamil Nadu are mostly the OBC (Other Backward Classes) communities. They have often entered into a strong hateful confrontation with the SC communities.
Water has always been a strong point of contention. The mixing of human excreta with water has a perverted historical association.
Just five to seven decades ago, the rural dominant castes used to allocate for themselves the good water resources while unhygienic water bodies would be given to the SC communities.
These are water canals into which the dominant castes discharge their refuse.
They used to call their own water canals 'vaikal' and the water canals which the SC use as 'peekal' (shitty canals). Similarly the pond which would be allocated to scheduled communities used to be called 'peekulam'.
So the immersion of excreta into the water tank of the scheduled community is not just a crime but a continuation of a historically criminal phenomenon.
None other than the famous minister P Kakkan (1908-1981) a freedom fighter, one of the most brilliant ministers in Kamaraj ministry, and who also belonged to scheduled community, led a strong agitation for the removal of this apartheid against scheduled communities.
The dominant community of the village had come with arms to stop the non-violent scheduled community brethren from drawing water from the village pond.
The dominant community mob was shocked to find that two prominent leaders, Sri Orungan Ambalam and Karupaiyya Chettiyar along with Thiru Kakkan ji, were participating in the procession of the scheduled community. Each of them asked the upper caste mob to kill them first before laying their hands on the scheduled community.
So from there we should have moved forward. But we have regressed. This is not an isolated event. From time to time, reports surface that human excreta was forced into the mouths of scheduled community members who dared to walk on the roads of the dominant castes.
This shows a hatred of monstrous proportion. This shows deep-seated perversion that is a sickening disease of the mind. The perpetrators have to be not only condemned but also punished and 'surgically' cured and healed.
To take human excreta in a bucket and then climb all the way to the overhead water tank and dump it into the water tank, where children, pregnant mothers, women and old people drink from, needs a demonic mind — nothing less.
What we lack today is a spiritual leader — one who would put his own life in the hands of these demonic people for saving the dignity of the brothers and sisters of scheduled communities.
Forget the politics and politicians. Should this not disturb the sleep of every Dharmic institution here?
Of course, Hindu Dharma is not responsible for either the origin or the perpetuation of caste system and its discriminations.
Dharma is not predicated upon jaati. Jaati is just a social system — a miserably failed system irrespective of what social-capital ideologues tell you. But shouldn't the stench-filled inhuman ills arising out of the jaati system be fought by Dharma?
Is it not the duty of everyone who considers himself a preacher or guardian of Dharma in the society to make sure that such a malaise of mind in our society is removed?
Hate as we may a Mahatma Gandhi, he would have gone into an indefinite fast to punish himself for this moral failure. Today, sitting in the comfort of our rooms we may think of him as an eccentric, but that fast would have moved the dominant castes to repent and seek forgiveness and cement the communal relations among the Hindu society.
Imagine an adheenam or a jeeyar or a jagatguru going to that village and doing a seven-day fast as a repentance for the foul deed done; without blaming anyone, just as a repentance. Would that not be a mighty statement against this monstrous adharmic deed?
Like proselytisation, predatory conversions and state poaching of Dharma, jaati-based foul deeds are violations of Hindu rights and threaten the very existence of Hindu society.
Under a Taliban regime, we, irrespective of our castes, are kafirs who would ultimately become extinct. Under an evangelical regime we are heathens irrespective of our castes and would have to convert for education and medicine.
If we stand today with caste discriminations, closing our eyes, ears and mouths to demonic deeds against scheduled communities, then it is into a Talibanic future we will make our children walk into.
Aravindan is a contributing editor at Swarajya.
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