Hindus continue self-imposed exile

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Madurai, Tamil Nadu, May 10 (UNI) Notwithstanding several rounds of talks between the district administration and the Hindus of Uthapuram Village, the impasse continued, as a section of Hindus were on a self-imposed exile in Thalayuthu forests in Madurai District, protesting against the demolition of a part of the 'wall' dividing Dalits colony with the Hindus.

Talking to UNI M Vaithiyalingam, a sexagenarian, said, ''we are united for a cause and nothing would deter us to withdraw the agitation, unless our demands are accepted and implemented by Tamil Nadu government.'' Their stir, braving hot sun and humidity, taking refuge in the forest, living under the shadow of trees, cooking and sharing community food, entered fifth day today.

They gained support not only from Pillaimar community, but also from other communities who thronged the forest in large numbers to express their solidarity to the agitating people. They also donated rice, pulses, vegetables, drinking water and milk for them.

A 12-year-old girl G Jamuna Devi, who was suffering from acute chicken pox, was sent to her relative's home at a nearby village.

Another kid, P Muneeswaran was suffering from diarrhoea, while two elders were down with fever. A medical team sent by the district administration to the forest was sent back by the agitators.

A portion of the controversial 'brick wall' that had allegedly divided Dalits colony from the Hindus for nearly two decades at Uthapuram village in Madurai District of Tamil Nadu was demolished on May six. The 12-feet high and 600-metre long wall was erected by the Hindus in 1989 to prevent Dalits from entering into the upper caste people's locality.

Though the Hindus claimed the wall was constructed after a mutual understanding reached between the two communities, following a bloody clash in 1989, the Dalits were up in ante against the wall.

The Hindus returned 302 ration cards to the district administration stating that instead of living in the village they prefer to live in the forest as tribes. They were also demanding for a permanent police station in the village and free houses for 32 Hindu families, who were affected in the 1989 caste violence.

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