Caste violence goes up in India during lockdown

DM Monitoring

Chennai: In a three-minute video that went viral last week, Amsavalli Satheesh Kumar speaks a grave line in a low tone.
“My family would be forced to commit suicide,” she says nonchalantly. “My husband and I will die consuming poison or burn ourselves to death in front of Collectorate if we are not allowed to work. This is final, the government has to intervene,” she says. Amsavalli was elected the president of T Konagapadi village panchayat in Salem in the local body elections held last December.
Belonging to the Dalit sect Arundhathiyar by birth, Amsavalli contested the election after it was declared a reserved panchayat. “Since my victory, the opposite group – from a dominant community – has stopped me from doing my work” she alleges. The opposite group, according to Amsavalli, comprises one Mohan and his wife Niranjana, former president of the same panchayat. Since she took over, Amsavalli says she has been subject to casteist slurs and other humiliation. “Immediately after I took over, Mohan threatened me, asking how a woman from my community can sit on the same chair that he had sat on,” said Amsavalli.
On April 22, when the country was under lockdown, Amsavalli went to sort out a drinking water issue of the Sri Lankan Tamil refugee camp in her village. Mohan reportedly came with a bunch of people and tried to stop her from doing her job.
“He was abusing and threatening us throughout. He even said he would get rid of us soon,” says Satheesh Kumar, Amsavalli’s husband.