Cases reported recently to be taken up at State-level review meeting

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, on Tuesday confirmed that a twelve-year-old Dalit boy was recently forced to carry his footwear on head as a form of punishment in Vadugapatti village near Usilampatti.

Commission Director D.Venkatesan with A. Iniyan, Investigator, visited the village and conducted an inquiry with villagers, which included members of both the intermediate caste and Dalits. Mr. Venkatesan was concerned that the incidence of discrimination against Dalits in Tamil Nadu was on the rise. “All cases from Paramakudi, Dharmapuri to Vadugapatti in the recent past would be taken up at the State-level review meeting soon.”

Referring to the Vadugapatti incident, Dr.Venkatesan said that it was a heinous social crime against a juvenile. Villagers were told that the various practices of untouchability were not only inhuman but were also against the law of this land. People guilty of the crime would have to face serious legal consequences.

The Dalits of Vadugapatti demanded that the NCSC should recommend creating a new pathway for them to reach the graveyard, which was not only separate but also inaccessible. They also demanded a separate community hall and adequate police protection.

Many Dalits in the village alleged that caste Hindus warned them against complaining to government officials or human rights organisations about discrimination.

Earlier in Madurai, the Director inspected a government-aided school run by a Roman Catholic Church near South Gate after media reports that Dalit students were asked to leave the school following a delay in disbursal of grants under the special scholarship scheme. The school authorities were warned not to repeat this. The team members also inspected various Adi Dravidar hostels in the district following a report in The Hindu that they lacked basic facilities.

The team met the District Collector and Superintendent of Police and enquired about action taken with regard to the incident.