Skip to main content
xYOU DESERVE INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL MEDIA. We want readers like you. Support independent critical media.

TN: Dalits Walk With Footwear in Tiruppur, Defy Generations of Oppression

Their act challenged the unspoken decree imposed by upper castes, which restricted dalits from wearing slippers or even riding cycles on a particular street.
Dalit Rights

In a historic stride towards equality, 60 Dalits from Rajavur village in Madathukulam taluk, Tiruppur district, shattered age-discriminatory norms by walking down the 'Kambala Naicken Street' sporting footwear. This act challenged the unspoken decree imposed by upper castes, which restricted dalits from wearing slippers or even riding cycles on this very street, the New Indian Express reported.

Narrating the accounts passed down through generations, A Muruganandam (51), a resident, told the newspaper that the Arunthathiyar community members faced threats and assaults for years for merely wearing slippers on this street. Even upper-caste women issued warnings, claiming that a local deity would bring doom upon dalits if they dared to step foot with footwear there. Hence, they avoided the street for decades.

Taking a stand against this practice, the issue was brought to the attention of dalit organisations a few weeks ago. Late on Sunday, the dalits reclaimed their dignity by walking down the street wearing slippers, another villager told the New Indian Express. 

However, the roots of this discrimination run deep. An SC community member said that even though untouchability was banned post-independence, dominant caste members propagated a tale about a buried voodoo doll under the street, threatening death within three months if any Dalit wearing slippers. Some dalits believed these stories, which helped perpetuate the practice to the present day, the villager said.

CK Kanagaraj, Secretary of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (Tiruppur) [TNUEF], described to the newspaper the challenges faced during their attempts to protest. Despite initial police refusal and a postponed protest plan, members from various organisations took a bold step. Members of TNUEF, along with functionaries of CPI(M), VCK, and ATP, decided to walk through the street and enter Rajakaliamman temple in the village, which has been out of bounds for Dalits as well. Around 60 Dalits walked on the street unimpeded, with local police monitoring the event closely, he said.

He added that the walk was a significant step towards emancipation, but some Dalits still grapple with fear. However, they expressed hope this move would instil confidence and pave the way for equality.

Get the latest reports & analysis with people's perspective on Protests, movements & deep analytical videos, discussions of the current affairs in your Telegram app. Subscribe to NewsClick's Telegram channel & get Real-Time updates on stories, as they get published on our website.

Subscribe Newsclick On Telegram