FORWARDED APPEAL (India): Alleged assault on a Member of Legislative Assembly of Dalit Panthers at Cuddalore 

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is forwarded this Urgent Appeal on behalf of People’s Watch– Tamil Nadu regarding an alleged assault on a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the Dalit Panthers of Tamil Nadu, India on 2 January 2006.

If you have further inquiries, please contact the People’s Watch-Tamil Nadu at +91 452 2539520 or email to

Urgent Appeals Desk
Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC)

Assault on a MLA of Dalit Panthers (‘Vidudalai Chiruthaigal’) at Cuddalore

Sub: Urgent appeal on the issue of assault on the Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), of the Dalit Panthers (‘Vidudalai Chiruthaigal’) of Tamil Nadu at Sedapalayam village, Cuddalore District, Tamil Nadu on January 2nd 2007, by the members of the Tamil Nadu police while participating in the funeral procession of a Dalit youth murdered by the dominant caste, Vanniyar community people.

Details of case:

Mr. D. Ravikumar, Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), of the Dalit Panthers (Viduthalai Chiruthaigal) in Tamil Nadu who is also a Dalit Writer, Social activist and Publisher was assaulted by members of the Tamil Nadu police on 2 January at Sedapalayam village, Cuddalore district while participating in the funeral procession of one Mr. Siva, a 25-year-old dalit youth and DPI worker. Mr. Siva is alleged to have been murdered by the so called dominant caste people of that region, the Vanniyars on 2nd January 2007 due to a scuffle in a cricket match.

The murdered victim is a Dalit youth named Siva (23) and four more Dalit youth were also attacked in the same incident at Sedapalayam, Cuddalore on 1st January 2007 due to an altercation between the Dalit and the dominant caste Vanniars youth of the region in a cricket match. As fallout of this scuffle the Dalit youth Siva was attacked by the so called dominant caste Vannier youth. (Incidents of caste Hindus assaulting Dalits over a loss in a cricket match are common in India, but under reported. See for instance, the report On Bloody Pavilions in Outlook, February 23, 2004, which reports an incident where Dalit youth in a UP village won a game of cricket but lost lives in the caste war.)

Immediately on hearing the occurrence, Mr. D. Ravikumar, MLA who represents Kattumannarkoil constituency (also in Cuddalore district) the district where the incident had occurred, rushed to the spot.   By then the injured Mr. Siva died due to the severe head injuries by 6 a.m. at the Government Hospital in Pondicherry. Soon, Ravikumar got in touch through the phone with Mr. Gagandeep Singh Bedi, District Collector, Cuddalore and Mr. M. Karunanidhi, Chief Minister, Tamil Nadu. Through them he urged the authorities to ensure that a case was filed under SC/AT PoA Act alone with immediate compensation to the victims’ and the perpetrators to be arrested.  He also pleaded with the police and district administration to ensure that a caste clash did not erupt and law and order were maintained.

The compensation cheque of Rs 1.5 lakh was said to be ready by then and was to be handed over to the family members of the victim once the funeral was over. On the evening of 2 January 2007, at about 6 p.m. as the funeral procession was passing the houses of the alleged perpetrators they started pelting stones at the procession. This is one way through which the perpetrators try to humiliate the victim’s family and their sympathizers. The DPI cadres were annoyed by this act of the alleged perpetrators and others in the procession vented their ire by trying to set fire to some of the houses of the dominant caste people.

The already gathered police who were about 100-strong police, including the personnel of the Delta Police, launched a lathi-charge. Scores of dalits were injured. Mr. Ravikumar, MLA, too sustained several injuries on his hands and legs.

Mr. Ravikumar, who had all along been interacting with the police, said: “In the first place, the police should not have allowed the procession via the dwellings of the accused persons. Tensions were high and the police merely fuelled the atmosphere. There was no provocation for the assault on me. DSP Chandrasekhar and the Inspector of Old Town police station Shafiullah were with me till moments before the lathi-charge. I was not an unknown person to the police. The two men who assaulted me are SIs Thiruvenkadam (Delta Police) and Kumaresan (TN Police).

“When one policeman tried to prevent the cops from attacking me saying I was an MLA, the assaulters said even if I was an MLA I should not be spared for inciting caste violence,” recalls Ravikumar. All the while, Ravikumar was merely trying to ensure that a caste clash did not ensue. Since the Indian Science Congress was to commence the next day (January 3) in neighboring Chidambaram, much of the administration’s focus has been directed there.

As a writer and MLA, Ravikumar is personally known to the Chief Minister. He is said to be a key player in the DPI switching over the DMK-led alliance a few months ago. If such a person can be so casually assaulted by the lower ranks of the police it merely points to the anti-dalit mentality of the police. The DMK government and the local administration insist on underplaying the sequence of events. Senior bureaucrats and ministers have called up Ravikumar apologizing for the ‘unfortunate incident’ and seem to insist on ‘forgiving and forgetting’

Background of the caste and political tension prevailing for years

According to the 2001 census, Cuddalore district has a high Dalit population of 634479 persons among which 514729 lives in rural areas. Comparatively speaking, Cuddalore district was a peaceful district in Tamil Nadu. But that situation got deteriorated during 90s when the epicenter of the caste clashes moved from southern districts to northern districts of Tamil Nadu An analysis of the caste conflicts in the year of 2001 by the PCR wing showed that the “caste menace”‘ which was prevalent mostly in southern districts, has spread across north Tamil Nadu, particularly Cuddalore, Villupuram, Dharmapuri and Tiruvallur.

A majority of the 15 caste clashes reported from January to June 2001 killing 15 people took place in north Tamil Nadu, largely between the Dalits and the Vanniars. And, the largest number of atrocity-prone villages-as many as 30-have been identified in Cuddalore district, while Tirunelveli district considered to be the hot-bed of caste menace, has only 13 such villages.

During the 1999 parliamentary elections Chidambaram (reserved) constituency in the Cuddalore district witnessed a worst kind of violence against Dalits. Thousands of Dalit houses were burnt down by the Vanniars and many people were wounded. Many polling booths were also captured by the Vanniars. There was a small lull in the caste tensions in the district particularly after Mr.Thol.Thirumavalavan, the general secretary of the Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (DPI) aligned with Dr. Ramadoss of P.M.K in the Tamil nationalist activities. Now both these parties are in the same alliance under D.M.K

Even though the D.P.I and the P.M.K shares the same political platform the Vanniars do not want to change their attitude towards Dalits. The Vanniars started to attack dalits again. A few months back during the local body elections, more than hundred houses of Dalits were ransacked by Vanniars in Paththirakottai a small village in the district. Caste Hindus killed a dalit youth who married a caste Hindu girl in Kozhiyur recently.

The Tamil Nadu government has selected Mr.Thol.Thirumavalavan, of Dalit Panthers, for ‘Ambedkar award’ this year. The award distribution ceremony is about to take place on the 8th January 2007. This announcement of the awards for the Dalit leader was very much welcomed by the Dalit people. They welcomed this decision by pasting thousands of posters all over the state. Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Party (D.P.I) honored the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi with a title “Samaththuva Periyar” (a great man of equality) recently.

Suggested action

People’s Watch Tamil Nadu, a human Rights organization based at Madurai condemns the assault on Ravikumar and recommends the District and State Authorities the following action,

To initiate action on the alleged perpetrators namely, Sub-Inspectors Thiruvenkadam (Delta Police) and Kumaresan (TN Police). in the attack of the MLA and suspend the overbearing police personnel

To set up an inquiry by the District Collector into the lathi-charge and the pelting of stones on the funeral procession

To render justice to Siva’s family by taking action on the perpetrators in the brutal murder of Mr. Siva.

To immediately suspend the overbearing police personnel

To provide immediate necessary protection to the victim’s family and the entire village till the accused are arrested and the situation comes to normality. At any cost the protection should not be terminated before this.

To take immediate action and impose collective fine on the entire community of the Caste Hindus whoever follows the Untouchability practices by not allowing the funeral to pass over the common streets as per the SC/ST PoA Act 1989 since there was pelting of stones during the funeral procession by the dominant caste Vanniyar people of this region.

Calls upon the Honorable Minister of Adi Dravida Welfare to visit the area to examine the situation in person to restore peace.

Please write to the following persons:

Hon Chief Minister
Fort. St. George

The Chief Secretary to Government
Fort. St. George
Phone : 91 – 044 – 25671555 (O),  91 – 044 – 24874595 (R)
Fax:  91 – 044 – 25672304

The Honourable Chair person
National SC/ST Commission
5th Block, Lok Nayak Bhavan
New Delhi -110003
Fax: 91 – 011 – 4625378

The Honourable Chair person
National Human Rights Commission
Fardikot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi -110001
Phone: 91 – 011 – 2338742, 91 – 011 – 23384863

The Honourable Chair person
State Human Rights Commission
‘Thiruvarangam’ , 143, PS Kumarasamy Raja salai
Greenways Road, Chennai-600028
Fax: 91 – 044 – 24951484

Tmt. Tamilarasi
Minister for Adi Dravidar Welfare
Fort. St. George ,  Secretariat
Email :
Fax:  91 – 044 – 25672446


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (

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Document Type : Forwarded Urgent Appeal
Document ID : FA-001-2007
Countries : India,
Issues : Caste-based discrimination,