The meeting, essentially attended by leaders of the backward and most backward classes of Tamil Nadu who consider themselves superior to Dalits, apart from representatives of Muslim groups, said most marriages between Dalit men and women of “higher” castes were “fraudulent alliances” planned at the behest of Dalit leaders.
In Dharmapuri, the marriage between a Dalit youth and a Vanniyar girl had led to her father committing suicide which, in turn, had triggered a clash between Dalits and caste Hindus. As many as 268 houses and huts in three Dalit colonies were damaged and destroyed. The PMK, a largely Vanniyar party, is facing allegations of being involved in the Dharmapuri violence.
Even as they claimed they were not opposed to inter-caste love marriages, leaders representing the Vanniyars, Thevars, Udayars, Yadavas, Naidus, Nadars, Reddys, Mudaliyars said at the Sunday meeting that most of these alliances were not simple love marriages.
In a resolution scripted by the PMK, they cited the case of Namakkal district which, according to them, had seen 955 love marriages last year, of which 712 allegedly had “failed”. “Unable to withstand the suffering, 32 girls committed suicide, 37 parents ended their lives. The affected girls were from non-Dalit communities, while the culprits were Dalits,” charged the resolution. PMK founder S Ramadoss, who chaired the meeting, has made this charge several times.
The organisations also demanded that the minimum permissible age of marriage be raised to 21 for girls and 23 for boys, while the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act be amended to prevent its “misuse”.