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Published April 2010
End of Casteism
By T.M. Mani (Now T.M. Umar Farooq)
134 pages p/b
Price: Rs 50+Rs19 regd. postage / US $7
Publishers: Vergal Publication, Chennai
After 52 years of struggle, a well known dalit
leader in Tamil Nadu, T. M. Mani, accepted Islam. The English version of his
book is "End of Casteism". Mr. T.M. Mani waged a long war against casteism and
caste atrocities. He fought ferociously for 52 years and at the end, accepted
Islam. His struggle's sufferings and achievements are detailed in this book.
Back cover of the book: Following those
friends, I too have integrated myself with the path of Islam. I have accepted
the all powerful one Allah. The caste system which had given untold miseries and
hardships, humiliations and indignities has been thus destroyed.
Table of Contents
Chapter – 1: VANA DURGA
Chapter – 2: THE RIGHT TO BURY DEAD BODIES
Chapter – 3: COLLECTOR GANGAPPA
Chapter – 4: MURDER CASE – IMPRISONMENT
Chapter – 5: Dr. AMBEDKAR
Chapter – 6: CONVERSION TO A DIFFERENT RELIGION
We did not expect a downpour that night. There were heavy showers
accompanied by thunder and lightning. Three of us were curling round in three
corners in the pial of that dilapidated choultry. We were almost completely
drenched by the rains. I thought we could take shelter in the huts near the
choultry for a while and asked Chinna Pappa for her opinion. She was two years
younger than us. Could be about ten years.
“No Anna, they are all velalars. They knew our caste. All these days they were
moving with me freely touching and playing, only yesterday Meenatchi asked me
about our caste. I thought they also belonged to our caste and told her our
caste. She passed on the information to everybody and from yesterday nobody
speaks with me.
“Why did you tell them?” I asked.
“I don’t know that they wee velalars. I thought that they too belonged to our
caste and so told them.”
Chinna Pappa felt guilty. Even at that time there was some light in the tea shop
which was a little away. “We shall request them to permit us to sleep here for a
while. Then only we can go to work tomorrow.” I said. “They know about our
caste, don’t they?”, asked Chinna Pappa.
“when I went to get tea in the afternoon they asked me. I said Odda Chettiar.
Therefore, they will permit us.” Said Thangavelu, who was nearby. Our hopes were
The rains now were a light drizzle. All the three of us did not change clothes.
A ‘shorts’ below and a towel above were our clothes. Chinna Pappa used to have a
skirt and a blouse and also an upper garment. Like a boy she used to work with
us regularly. A few years later she was given in marriage to someone whose
ill-treatment she could not bear and so she committed suicide.
The distance between the place where we worked and our huts was about ten
kilometres. Many people would return home after finishing the day’s work. Saying
that I need not strain myself, my mother asked me to stay in the choultry
She used to send me gruel with those who were coming to work in the morning.
This was the food for me throughout the day. For Thangavelu who was working with
us and Chinna Pappa also stayed with me in the choultry. We were six children to
our parents. When the child, my younger brother, was born, my mother stopped my
primary schooling so that I could take care of him. I had to take him to the
place where mother was working and after he was suckled to bring him back to our
hut. If mother went to a different village for work, I too had to go and take
care of my brother. If he felt sleepy, I had to use mother’s old saree, tie it
up as a swing from the tree and make him sleep.
When the younger brother began to walk about, I was sent to work for daily
wages. It was during those days that I had to live in places like choultries and
lead life like a stray dog or fox.
If fact even in places where a dog, fox, pig, lamb or cow could move about
freely, we wee not allowed to move about. That is because we are untouchables.
We had to carry on with such a degradation and shame. Yes, we learnt about
Thanthai Periyar and Ambedkar right from our very early childhood. This is a
blessing which our forefathers did not have. They believed that their woes were
due to Destiny, Fate, etc. They never raised the questions, “Why?”, “What for?”.
They accepted the caste based social order without any resistance. Or, they were
used to it.
Many of Our ancestors were so afraid of the dominant upper castes that they ran
away from the village and nothing was known about their fate afterwards. My
grandfather’s grandfather one Alagan ran fearing the wrath of a big landlord and
settled in this place. And, of course, Vaithi’s son Perumal and thereafter
Perumal’s son Muthu – he was my father: all these people, one by one were
leading a life of slavery on the same farm.
When for the sixth generation my turn came to serve as a alave in that
agricultural farm, our family was caught in the maelstrom of Indian independence
of “Velliane, veliyeru” (Quit India). When crores of people who were treated as
worse than dogs and untouchables even in the twentieth century we got freedom
for Indian. In the elections our family wanted its votes to be cast for the
Congress Party’s symbol, the bull, in the ballot box. Our landlord Manickam
Pillai, a Justice Party leader got angry on this score. He threw all of us out
from even that slavish work he was providing. This is how democracy in free
India helped us.
(For generation after generation, leading a life of slavery and eking out a bare
existence with half-filled stomachs – ) even this himself to the landlord all
his life spent his last years in hunger and then died of starvation. My mother
and father could not find some other farm to lock themselves up as slaves and
went about, town after town, in search of some work on daily wages. It is in
that background that I had spent my young days. Wherever we went, the phrase,
“Move away”, simply haunted our minds. In Temples, temple tanks, Agraharams
(living quarters of Brahmins), tea-shops and even in places where water is
provided to quench thirst. Water is given freely, we were denied admission.
On the one hand such an insulting life and on the other side thoughts of
Ambedkar and Periyar’s self-respect. In between we were seized of the realities
of life. This book outlines a few of those sufferings and struggles in an
atmosphere of dejection and frustration. The incidents and the theme of the book
are equally applicable to crores of Dalits in our Mother India.
Dalit Blue Tigers Movement
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