Staff Reporter

TIRUNELVELI: Even as the government and officials claim that “double-tumbler system” has been completely eradicated from the State, Arunthathiyars of Ayyapuram near Tenkasi say that they have been served tea or coffee in stainless steel tumblers and have to wash these vessels after they drink. Others are served in glass tumblers.

“If the hot drink is served to us in disposable cups, we are so lucky. Otherwise, we have to wash and keep the tumblers in a separate place,” said N. Maya, district president of the “Aathi Thamizhar Paeravai.” He along with a group of youths submitted a petition to District Collector G. Prakash at a grievance day meeting held here on Monday.

Ayyapuram, having a Dalit population of 120 families, is witnessing this sort of practice over the centuries, the villagers allege. While members of the upper caste are allowed to sit on the bench or chair in teashops, the “oppressed” should stand at a distance from others or sit on the floor as they sip the tea or coffee.

After some youths filed a complaint with the Tenkasi police on April 20, the Dalits are being asked to bring utensils from their houses or teashop owners give only “parcel” tea or coffee.

“The police have assured that they would take necessary action. But those who approached the police are allegedly receiving death threats from teashop owners,” says Mr. Maya. However, sources in the police denied that the Dalits had approached them. The Collector said caste-based discrimination would not be allowed in any part of the district and that he would ask his subordinates to conduct a probe immediately.