ADVERSE IMPACT OF CT ACT ON THE LIVES OF PIRAMALAI KALLAR

The adverse impact of the CT Act on the Piramalai Kallar socio-economic status is highly deplorable and well documented but subsequently all most, most of the sufferings of the Piramalai Kallars has been suppressed as stated supra partly due to political animosity and partly due to misconception and myth about the Piramalai Kallar Tribes and partly due to voicelessness/noiselessness of Piramalai Kallar Tribes. Even now, there is myth that the Piramalai Kallar had suffered as any other tribes of the state against whom also the CT Act was imposed but if we examine the official data of the registration of persons under the CT Act for the Piramalai Kallars and the rest of communities in the then Madras state (including Andhrapradhesh where the number is more), in the present Tamilnadu 95% of the victims of the CT Act only Piramalai Kallars. The number of persons registered under CT Act till 31 December 1935 is produced as under:-

Table-2

Comparative Statement of total number of Persons

Registered under CT Act as on 31.12. 1935

S.No. Categories Persons registered from the rest of the communities in the then state of Madras (Andhapradhesh+Tamilnadu+ Kerala Excluding Piramalai Kallar) Persons registered from Piramalai Kallar 1 Total number remaining on the rolls at the end of the previous year 39173 37342 2 Number registered during the year 3098 738 3 Number removed on account of good conduct or other cause 1731 147 4 Total number remaining on the rolls on 31st December 1935 40540 37933 Source: The report on the administration of the Police of the Madras Presidency, 1935

Thus, it is sine quo non to highlight at least a spectre of the pathetic story of the Piramalai Kallars in the succeeding Paragraphs of this chapter.

a) The said CT Act empowered the Government to declare any tribe, gang or class of person 'as criminal tribe' if they were addicted to the systematic commission of non-bailable offences (explicit objective but the evil deign was to brand, the rebellious aboriginals who had unparallel mastery over the guerilla warfare in general and Piramalai kallars in particular and this group also adept in using Valaithadi, as criminals thereby deprive them the survival support from the majority of the main stream society). Further, once notified, the members of the tribe had no appeal to the court. The notified criminal tribes were restricted to the confines of the villages they live and also in the criminal settlements. Such peoples were not allowed to move away from the village without any passport and they were asked to report to the Police Station every night and stay till dawn of the day.

b) Thus, the notified criminal tribes were put to a lot of hardship and were deprived of their personal liberty. For more than 3 decade, they could not lead a normal live, and the atrocity did not end with male members alone but done to women, children, aged and also their cattle and chattel.

c) The members of the designated criminal tribes were placed outside the provisions of the ordinary law and subjected to intensive and indefinite Police supervision and they were exposed to the harassment and blackmail of the Police and the local land-lords and village officers who were entrusted with the supervision. Hence W.J. Hatch said that, "I was doubtful whether any other Act on the statute book goes so far in giving the Police powers to take away a man's freedom".

d) The some of the draconian legal provisions of the CT Act, besides the popularly known provisions relating to registration and restriction of movements, shall speak volumes about the sufferings of the Piramalai Kallars:-

i) The basic principle of criminal jurisprudence i.e. an accused is presumed to be innocent till proved i.e. the burden of proof is on the persecution whereas for Piramalai Kallars under section 21 of CT Act the burden of proof is on the accused. A basic principle available all the accused all over the world is denied to Piramalai Kallars under CT Act.

ii) Under Section 22(3) of the said even for non cognizable offence the Piramalai Kallars can be arrested which is not the case with other accused.

iii) Under the said section even on suspicion the Piramalai kallars can be arrested for even non-cognizable offence.

iv) Under section 23 of the CT Act even for minor offence under IPC on second conviction the Piramalai Kallars can be punished ‘not less than seven years�? and on third and subsequent convictions “transportation to life�? i.e. shall be sent unknown destination to other part of the world.

v) under section 23(2), Piramalai kallars can be punished twice for the offence under CT Act and IPC for the same acts with same ingredients, thus there is protection from the double jeopardy to the Piramalai kallars.

vi) Under section 24(a) if a Piramalai kallar found in any place under such circumstance as to he is about to commit or aid theft or robbery he shall be punished 3 year.

v) Under section 24(b) of CT Act, if a Piramalai kallar found that he is waiting for an opportunity to commit theft or robbery, he shall be punished 3 years.

vi) Under section 25 of CT Act, the Piramalai Kallars can be arrested only for crossing from his place of residence without committing any offence. vii) Under section 26 of CT Act If the Piramalai kallar is found in other village, the headman or others land the owner/occupier of the land shall intimate the presence of Piramalai Kallar to police immediately, thus it was highly impossible for Piramalai kallar to move out of his village. viii) Under section 27 of CT Act, if the headman and owner did not inform the presence of Piramalai Kallars within their jurisdiction they shall be punished under section 176 of Indian Penal code.

ix) The height of the tyranny is provided in Section 29 of the CT Act As under:-

“29. No Court shall question the validity of any notification issued under section 3. Section, 11 of section 12 on the ground that the provisions hereinbefore contained or any of them have not been complied with or shall entertain in any form whatever the question whether they have been complied with; but every such notification shall be conclusive proof that it has been issued in accordance with the law.�?

e) To understand the mind set with which the DNTs were dealt with in it pertinent to quote a decent portion of a senior army officers remarks on DNTS. In 1932, a British army officer, Lieutenant General Sir George MacMunn, in his book “ the Underworld of India�? in a chapter titled “Criminal Tribes and Classes,�? has wrote about the DNTs as under that “They are absolutely the scum, the flotsam and jetsam of Indian life, of no more regard than the beasts of the field.�?

e) During, the imposition of the CT Act against Piramalai Kallars there were endless list of the custodial death, encounters, massacres, genocide were carried out by the police with impunity. On 03.4.1920 as stated supra 16 Piramalai Kallars were shot, killed, and burned like beasts at Perungamallalur, near Usilampatti. Another major incidence is on 3rd May 1920, 750 Piramalai Kallars of Mettupatti, Madipanur and Perumalpatti villages were arrested at the dawn of the day and tied together in a single rope and marched to prison in the hot sun and they are not allowed to have water and food during the said ride not even the cattle were sparred as there were no men in the villages many cattle died of starvation as they were tied in the shed of Piramalai Kallar.

f) Though large number of highly recalcitrant and the allegedly incorrigible Piramalai kallars were uprooted from their societies and vaporized in the dark chamber of hegemonic imperial Governments because as stated supra over 500 Piramalai Kallars were taken to Pammal Settlement but the official data shows only 263 persons and out of this 107 are children and above all, in the subsequent data on settlement population the pammal settlement had not been reflected suggesting the theory of genocide. The settlement strength in the year 1927 is as under:-

Table –3

Statement of strength in the settlement as on 31.12. 1927

S.No. Categories Strength Number our of view Men women Children Total Men women Children Total 1 Stuartpuram(Guntur) 662 588 731 1981 60 51 43 154 2 Sitanagaram(Guntur) 325 298 372 995 31 37 0 68 3 Kavali (Nellore) 304 264 521 1089 57 24 28 109 4 189 138 107 434 2 0 0 2 5 Siddhapuram(kurnoul) 58 58 66 182 1 3 5 9 6 Pammal(Chingleput) 69 87 107 263 0 0 0 0 7 Aziznagar(South Arcot) 295 320 372 987 11 11 0 22 8 Perambur(Madras) 72 72 75 219 2 2 0 4 Total 1974 1825 2351 6150 164 128 76 368 Source: The report on the administration of the Police of the Madras Presidency, 1935

g) They were used as slaves in tea plantations of western gates (which has been well depicted by the national award winning movie ‘Paradesi’). h) They had been used as slaves for all purposes and which was recorded by none other than Mr. M.S.Pattibhirama Ayyar, a member of the Legislative Assembly that the Act was passed by the Imperialist Government to strengthen their own hands. It was used as a political weapon and during the Non-Co-operation Movement, the Police harassed them by dubbing as criminal tribes under this Act and these people were used as readymade audience and they were brought to the places which were visited by Simon Commission in order to show that the Indians were welcoming the Simon Commission. Thus politically, this Act resulted 'contrary effect to the British as in the case of the Minto-Morley Reforms Act of 1909 ( Madras Legislative Assembly Debate (MLAD), March-April, 1947, p.567).

i) They were forced to work in the farms and houses of the police officers/revenue officers without wage, a crude form of forced labor.

j) In the process, they had lost all their livelihoods and whatever little assets they had. Their land became barren and unsuitable for cultivation and due to deforestation, their traditional livelihood also totally deprived of.

k) They were deprived of any public life as persons of other community, thus there was 100 % absence of their representatives in any institutions of governance etc.

l) As they were uprooted from their home land to settle them in faraway places as plantation workers/mining workers/industrial workers, they lost all their age old rich culture and heritage. Their robust social institutions evolved over millions of years were severely damaged.

m) As the entire Piramalai Kallars were branded as Criminals, an indelible social stigma has been engraved on the face of each Piramalai Kallar individuals and as a result the anger against the main stream societies are manifested in the form of various deviant behaviors and including their works, actions and approach towards the main stream society which needs to be rectified immediately before it is capitalized by the extreme elements in the society.

n) Because of the imposition of CT Act, the Piramalai Kallars were denied their Traditional jobs of Kaval, rather, the then government itself instigated other communities to mobilize fund and fight against Piramalai Kallars. The Piramalai Kallars were forced to be at war with everyone in the world as their due place is not given by the society mainly due to their egalitarian ethos are in conflict with the exploitative, imperial and capitalistic organization of the main stream society.

o) Because of the imposition of CT Act, indeed, many individuals had became hardened criminals not because the entire community is criminal but faulty imposition of draconian law upon highly egalitarian and judicious tribe.

p) The discrimination suffered by the Piramalai Kallar is many fold because the SC face discrimination only due to the notion of purity-pollution principle of the caste system whereas the Piramalai Kallar suffered discrimination on account of this principle of purity-pollution also as they were also meat eating tribes and similarly the Tribal people suffered only geographical isolation, the Piramalai Kallar also suffered geographical isolation besides the Piramalai Kallar suffered from statutory discrimination by the foreign rules by branding them as criminal tribes, they were treated as slaves, they were employed as forced labour and they were not even allowed to have natural mating during the night for 3 decades, their human rights were violated beyond the capacity of any language to describe their sufferings.

q) The adverse impact of the CT Act on lives of Piramalai Kallars is spoken by various members of the then legislative members :- i) In the Legislative Assembly in the year 1947, Mr. Raghavayya said, " the CTA has been condemned by one and all, not only Judges, not only Politicians, but the great Indian National Congress condemned it in 1936 and every civilized man had nothing but contempt for this most horrible piece of legislation". Further, he stated that these notified criminals were expected to render forced labour by the Police (or) the Village Munsif for their personal end, failing which they would be charged with false cases. Further he said, with regard to the settlement that many persons who did not committed any offence were confined to it as he knew that there were some families who had been• confined for generations - father, son and grandchildren were in the settlements.

ii) Though the Act at least in principle aimed to reform the so-called criminals, it did not do so and hence another member of the assembly by name Pillalammari Venkateswarlu said, " that the provisions of the Act are so rigorous that their application to members of the tribes is more likely to make them hardened criminals than to reform them.

iii) Mr. Nagappa explained how the notified criminal tribes had suffered at the hands of the Police. He said that if a Police Officer want anything to be done, he simply sent for these people and asked them to do it all for nothing, for no wages he used them as they were the slaves. The problems caused by the CT Act were also brought to light. The notified criminal tribes who were asked to report to the Police Stations at odd hours were asked to stay in the Police Station itself even though they were ailing. Even amidst severe illness they were stressed to report. An incumbent who was operated for strangulated hernias too met with such stresses. So the members of the Legislature of Madras demanded the repeal of the Act of 1924 and early removal of their distresses. It was accused that those people who did not attend the Police Station were also branded as 'habitual offenders'. Such measures not only degraded the prestige of the individuals but also encouraged them to• continue their unlawful deeds.

r) Even today jobs are denied to the Piramalai Kallar on seeing their community certificates.

s) Because of the backward culture of the Piramalai Kallar no single public or private industries are established in the regions of Piramalai Kallar nadu for last 6 decades and no standard schools or higher educational Institutions has been established.

Therefore, the adverse impact of the various atrocities, injustice committed against the Piramalai Kallars by the British Raj and the larger society is immeasurable. In the history of Piramalai Kallars, the 19th and 20th century is a dark age and it has pushed them down into the unfathomable pits of pathetic adverse socio-economic conditions. Hence, to heal the wounds done to the very psychic of the Piramalai Kallar, numbers of affirmative and ameliorative actions are required in a sufficient scale, magnitude with commitment and not mere lip or paper service.