The Legislative Assembly on Tuesday discussed the possibilities of issuing Scheduled Castes certificates to Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka settled in Dakshina Kannada district.
After MLAs from Dakshina Kannada district cutting across party lines favoured issuing Scheduled Castes certificates to Tamil families residing in Puttur and Sullia, Minister for Social Welfare A. Narayanaswamy promised to explore such a possibility by appointing a high-level committee headed by the Additional Chief Secretary.
However, Minister for Kannada and Culture Govind M. Karjol, also a Dalit, said that the Constitution does not provide for issuing Scheduled Castes certificates to migrants. “Neither the Chief Minister nor the Prime Minister can give caste certificates to them as it requires an amendment to the Constitution,” he said.
The matter was raised during Zero Hour by BJP MLA from Sullia S. Angara who said that there were 960 Tamil families from Sri Lanka settled in Puttur and Sullia since several decades. “Of these families, 130 are Dalits who have been denied Scheduled Castes certificates,” he said. Mr Angara’s demand was supported by the former Minister B. Ramanath Rai from the Congress.
He said that the Tamil families had not “migrated” but were “settled” in Karnataka, and in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala under an accord signed between the former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri and the former Sri Lankan Prime Minister Sirimavo Bandaranaike.
Mr. Angara said that the Government was issuing them caste certificates till a few years ago, but it had stopped this practice suddenly.
Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah intervened and suggested that the Government study the system of issuing caste certificates to such Tamils in the other States. Mr. Narayanaswamy said that the high-level committee, which will go into the issue, would study whether such Tamils settled in the other States were entitled to such benefits, before taking a decision.