‘Caste camps’

Print edition : March 13, 2020

A few caste outfits in Tamil Nadu apparently run clandestine “caste camps” in parts of the western region of the State, especially in districts such as Erode, according to independent reports. The aim is to “discourage and dissuade” girls of a particular backward caste from entering into inter-caste marriages, especially with Dalits.

A few years back, Naveena, who took refuge in the office of the Dravidar Viduthalai Kazhagam (DVK) in Erode, brought to its notice the presence of “shame camps”. DVK founder-leader Kolathur Mani said that these camps conducted counselling sessions for girls to dissuade them from marrying outside their caste. The expenditure to run these camps, Mani said, was borne by caste outfits and parents.

He said that the girls were brought to the camps by their parents and sometimes a few local caste-based outfits. “Naveena, who belonged to the Vellala Gounder caste, which gives equal rights to their women in ancestral property, married Periyannan, a Nadar by caste, on July 11, 2016. Soon after, she was abducted and taken to one such camp where she was tortured and asked to respect the principles of purity and honour. She claimed that she was taken to a few other such camps where she saw more girls. She escaped. We dealt with many such cases. The police have to find out whether these caste-based institutions are still operating,” Mani said.