Dalits resent show-cause notice issued by Railways for eviction of land

It asks why the encroachments should not be evicted

Madurai (MDU): The tussle between Dalits living in a railway property in Anna Nagar near here for over a century and the Southern Railway has taken a curious turn with Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Madurai, issuing a show-cause notice to the members of a Dalit colony, asking why they should not be evicted.

About 90 Dalit families, living in the railway property in concrete houses and with all basic amenities provided by the district administration, have been fighting with the railways to retain the place. Meanwhile, the DRM issued the notice last week, asking the individual houseowners to appear in person or by representation by April 27.

The notice comes after S.Karuppaiah, State joint secretary of Dalit Liberation Movement, took up the issue with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes on March 23 and the Commission launched an investigation into the issue.

After Commission’s Assistant Director P.Ramasamy issued notices to the General Manager, Southern Railway, and the Collector, asking them to furnish the details by April 27, the DRM issued the show-cause notice, Mr.Karuppaiah said. The movement, which had obtained an interim injunction from the Madras High Court in 2003, advised the houseowners not to appear before the DRM, he said. Instead they had been asked to send registered posts stating that they were willing to vacate the land if the railways provided them alternative site with built-in houses, he added.

He said the six-acre railway property, being used by the Dalits for four generations, had been classified in the ‘C’ category, which meant that the railways did not require the land for immediate purposes. The Railway had given a 10-acre site on a 99-year lease, he added.

About 90 Dalit families have been fighting with the railways to retain the place.