Coimbatore:Even 68 years after Independence, untouchability haunts the villages of Coimbatore in cruder forms. It is not just two tumbler system the discriminatory practice of serving tea for Dalits in glass tumblers and for the upper caste clients in stainless steel containers at tea shops in rural Coimbatore.
It is now the cruder two shed system at tea shops as Dalits can’t even sit in the same room with the upper caste people and sip tea. Barely 25 kms from Coimbatore city, at a small eatery in Panappatti village located near Sulur, Dalits are served tea and tiffin in an old rundown shed in the backyard, while upper caste people have the privilege of eating in a clean, tiled roofed shed.
Of the 2,000 people living in Panappatti, about 400 are Dalits, most of them landless labourers. When they go to a local eatery, the Dalits are stopped right at the entrance and asked to go to a dilapidated shed in the rear area. But the upper caste customers savour their snacks and tea in the main room of the eatery.
A wooden door, which separates the main room from the backyard shed earmarked for Dalit customers, clearly showcases the casteist divide running deep in the Coimbatore villages. But the Dalits have come to accept the discrimination.
“We have to eat food in the backyard and the leave. We are used to this practice for years,” says an elderly woman, who was sipping tea in the shed at the Panappatti eatery. DC has taken revealing pictures of the two shed system at Panappatti.
Not just in Panappatti, social activists and Dalits say the discriminatory practices in tea shops and eateries continue in many villages in Coimbatore especially Pollachi and Sulur. “This kind of discrimination is practised in Vadachittur, Panappatti, and up to Pollachi.
Even after the government crackdown on such discrimination , the practice continues,” lamented Moorthy, a Dalit farmer of Bogampatty near Panapatti. However, the president of Panappatti Village Panchayat, Sathasivam claimed that the two shed system of discrimination or two tumbler system did not prevail in his village.
“We are creating awareness among the villagers that all are equal; they should have their food and use the single tumbler for their tea,” he said The Superintendent of police, Coimbatore district warned that if there was any such discriminatory practice prevailing in rural Coimbatore, criminal action will be initiated.
Location: Tamil Nadu