Nation Current Affairs 20 Feb 2019 A room of one’ ...

A room of one’s own: Trichy’s shelter for intercaste couples

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | KATHELENE ANTONY
Published Feb 20, 2019, 3:21 am IST
Updated Feb 20, 2019, 7:14 am IST
The shelter.
 The shelter.

Chennai: Living in a paradoxical state infamous for caste-related violence but also for anti-caste politics, a five-member group in Trichy have decided to lend a helping hand by constructing a shelter home for intercaste couples in the city.

The humble home, with a single room, stocked with books of Ambedkar and Periyar in Trichy’s Navalpattu Police Colony has a board that proudly says 'Saadhi madham ozhiya kalappu mannamey theervu', which translates to 'For caste and religion to be banished, intercaste marriage is the solution'.

Speaking to Deccan Chronicle, Retd police inspector Pitchai Tamizh Sudar, one of the five members of Adhalinal Kaadhal Seiveer (AKS), a registered NGO that is active in counselling and providing shelter for just-married or yet-to-be married intercaste couples across the state says that they decided to set this shelter up as a go-to for intercaste couples. "We have put up our numbers on the board of this house in Police colony. If an inter-caste couple calls us, we will give them the keys and they can stay there for as long as they need to with free food and accommodation in addition to counselling and guidance on how to register their marriage, and find employment.."

The shelter, located within close distance to the police training centre is a safe location, Pitchai assures. "We will work closely with the couple to ensure they receive education and help them with getting work so that they can fend for themselves. The police station is only a kilometre away and the All-Women's police station is less than five kms" he says.

The shelter was Se Gunashekar's dream, says Pitchai. "He used to run a magazine called Kalapu Thirumanam years ago. Gunasekar, an active Periyarist, has performed over 150 intercaste marriages in the past ten years, offering shelter for couples in his own house or at his office space in Tirupur."

They understand the struggles intercaste couples have to go through, says Pitchai. "I myself had an inter-caste marriage in 1970. All others too, Porkodi from Madurai, Ilamathi Chinnasami from Thanjavur, Angaiyar Kanni from Chennai and Se Gunashekar have all had intercaste marriages."

The shelter was inaugurated on February 10 and Kaushalya, whose husband Shankar was hacked to death in Udumalaipettai in Tirupur district by her family members took part in the event. She expressed her appreciation for such a safe space and said that it would help a lot of couples who need help and don't know where to go.

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