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How this family faced casteism from government officials for what they eat

When Semaliyappan (78) and Samiyatha (75) decided to slaughter one of their cattle in April 2020, they did what everybody in Soriyankinathupalayam (a village in Tiruppur district) does on such an occasion. Firstly, they had a discussion with the elders of the village about the reason for the slaughter, in this case being that the cow had suffered injuries to it foot and had since been immobile. Semaliyappan and Samiyatha, both farmers couldn’t do much with the cattle after that, nor could any of their relatives. Secondly, they decided on proportions for distribution. Finally, they fixed a time and went ahead with it. Little did they know that this would be used by a government official to subject them to two hours of abusive, violent behaviour. T Sasikala, Vellakovil Municipality Commissioner barged into the residence of Semaliyappan on April 11, demanding that they turn over all the beef that they’ve with them. Her staff rounded up whatever they could find and collected them in a few vessels. To the shock of everybody present, T Sasikala then proceeded to pour black phenyl into all the vessels, rendering all the meat useless. Images of her doing so were then circulated, creating fear and furore across the district. Inspite of repeated pleas from Samiyatha and her daughter Shanti, Sasikala used casteist language and issued threats to whisk them away to a COVID 19 ward if they were found in the possession of beef again. Her threat that she would declare the entire village as a containment zone, inspite of zero cases of COVID 19 being reported from there didn’t go down well with the village ward officials, who pressed for action against her. Firstpost visited the village of Soriyankinathupalayam to speak to the family about what transpired on the night of April 11. Here is the full interview with Semaliyappan, Samiyatha and Shanti. Story by: Greeshma Kuthar
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