Theni police are contemplating stringent action against some anti-social elements allegedly involved in whipping up caste feelings among school students in the district.
The move comes a day after the Victoria Memorial Government Boys' Higher Secondary School at Periyakulam was closed following clashes between students of two different communities. Police registered cases and arrested suspects on both sides.
“We have credible information that some external forces are infusing caste feelings among school students. In the recent clash, some persons belonging to an outfit provoked the students to agitate and even attempt to commit suicide. Since they did not respond to summons, we have included them in the case,” Theni Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan said on Friday.
A fortnight ago, Dalit and Caste Hindu students clashed in a school at Devadanapatti.
Police registered cases and arrested students on both sides.
Police were taking steps to eliminate caste differences among students by bringing them together on one platform for an open discussion, he said.
“The students are tender in age and thoughts and they cannot have any caste bias. We are working with the Revenue and Education department officials to bring about absolute harmony in schools,” Mr. Balakrishnan said.
According to A. Kadir, Executive Director of ‘Evidence,' a Human Rights organisation, caste discrimination in Theni schools was not uncommon.
On October 14 last year, villagers of Ammapatti lodged a police complaint that Dalit children are made to sit separately in Anganwadi centres.
“While Caste Hindu children are served food in plates, Dalits are asked to bring their own vessels. We have taken photographs to prove this…Dalit children are not even allowed to play with others there,” Mr. Kadir told The Hindu.
On February 2 this year, Dalit and Caste Hindu students clashed at the Allinagaram Higher Secondary School in Theni.
“Caste differences are prevalent in many schools in this district and students have often clashed. Urgent steps have to be taken to root out this problem before it spreads to schools in neighbouring districts,” he said.