Gowsalya touches DMK's caste nerve

From character assassination to being a “puppet in the hands of some activists”, Gowsalya has been abused in a variety of ways.

Chennai: Gowsalya may have lost her husband Shankar to the swords of caste two years ago but she is determined to fight against oppression based on one's birth all her life. The intrepid 21-year-old woman has been at the receiving end of DMK's cyber warriors ever since she questioned the party's reluctance to speak the truth on honour killings in Tamil Nadu.

From character assassination to being a “puppet in the hands of some activists”, Gowsalya has been abused in a variety of ways. “I don't regret my speech at a public meeting organised by Viduthalai Siruthaigal Katchi (VCK) at Salem in the first week of this month at all. Although I knew that VCK was on good terms with DMK, I wanted to air my views without fear,” she said.

Gowsalya said DMK working president M.K. Stalin's failure to mention “caste” while condemning Shankar's brutal murder in broad daylight had been rankling her. “DMK stayed clear of caste in not only Shankar's case, they had done the same after the death of Elavarasan and Gokulraj as well. It's an open secret that the party doesn't want to lose the votes of Vanniyars, Gounders and Thevars by talking about caste in honour killings. It explains why Periyar never believed in electoral politics,” she added.

Shankar, a Dalit, was hacked to death at Udumalaipet on March 13, 2016 for marrying Gowsalya, a Thevar girl. A Tirupur Sessions court on December 12, 2017 awarded death penalty to six persons including Gowsalaya's father for conspiring and carrying out the murder.

Elavarasan, another Dalit, apparently committed suicide near Dharmapuri in 2013 after his marriage to a Vanniyar girl broke up under pressure from casteist elements. Gokulraj, also a Dalit, was beheaded at Thiruchengode in 2015 for his relationship with a Kongu Vellala Gounder girl.

When asked why she hadn't talked about AIADMK, which had been equally silent on honour killings, Gowsalya said the ruling party doesn't pretend to uphold social justice and Periyar's ideals. Neither does it talk about Hindutva. “It's DMK that speaks and acts as if it is the sole guardian of social justice in Tamil Nadu.

DMK cadres cannot digest the fact that I have questioned the party's holy image on caste. Now it is clear to all that DMK has no social justice principles from Mr Stalin down to the cadre,” she added.

According to Gowsalya, she was pained to be portrayed by DMK's online bullies as a clueless young woman who has dared to speak about weighty issues. “My abusers only reinforce the notion that a woman cannot think for herself. I do seek the advice of my senior friends to clear doubts but I have my own views on important problems,” she said.

K. Ponmudi, a former DMK minister, refuted Gowsalya's charge. “DMK has always been against caste. Social justice is the bedrock of our party. We condemn caste atrocities wherever they happen. We are the only party in Tamil Nadu that spearheaded agitations to have priests from all castes in temples. Gowsalya's accusations against DMK are baseless. Let her say she looks up to Mr Stalin alone for social justice. She is indulging in politics. Maybe you have to find out who is behind her,” he added.

DMK didn't utter a word after the Shankar murder judgment came out. None of their spokespersons took part in TV debates on the Udumalpet verdict.

Gowsalaya's accusation about DMK's conspicuous silence on caste in honour killings is corroborated by newspaper and TV coverage.

Evidence Kathir, whose NGO in Madurai has handled scores of honour killing cases, said DMK never focuses on caste when it is obliged to. “Caste-based murder cannot be treated as just another murder. It's not a law and order problem. DMK should realise that its anti-caste crusade isn't over with the opposition of Brahminism. It is high time the party spoke against the violence perpetrated by caste Hindus on Dalits,” he added.

In a subsequent Facebook post, Gowsalya has castigated DMK for not having the “guts” to speak the truth about honour killings. “I'm ready for a healthy debate any day. But DMK supporters weren't willing as they probably knew their party had been wrong. Threats can't cow me down and unreasonable opposition will only strengthen my resolve to fight caste violence,” she added.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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