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Sectarian Fire Burns

Sangam-era violence was of tribal variety. Later it was between religions. Today, it’s caste riots that mostly erupt in Tamil Nadu.

Sectarian Fire Burns
Illustration by R. Prasad
Sectarian Fire Burns
outlookindia.com
2017-12-26T14:17:34+05:30

Whenever a strife takes place in Tamil Nadu—­religious or caste-­related—a cry usually rends the air: ‘What is happening to our Garden of Peace’? That the Tamil land is a garden of peace is well-engrained in the minds of most of its people who look upon the communal and caste-related violence that bedevils north India with barely concealed contempt. But every one of them, barring a hopeless minority, have in them an inalienable religious or caste identity, or both, which they will defend with a surprising vehemence. I have seen docile Iyengars going red in the face and gnashing their teeth whenever they feel that their Iyengar-hood is being insulted. Similarly, it will be impossible for anyone, when Thevars are around, to say a word against Muthuramalinga Thevar, a formidable caste icon, and get away with all limbs intact. Aggressive posturing by Hindu, Christian and Muslim ideologues on TV channels is a routine, daily occurrence. The disdain most non-Dalits have for the just struggles of the Dalits is monstrously and demonstrably callous. A keen...

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