Dalit discrimination rampant in south

Denial of admission and making children do menial jobs are common in Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli

November 15, 2015 12:00 am | Updated November 17, 2021 03:10 am IST

Dalit children being served meal in different plates at an Anganwadi centre in Theni- File Photo

Dalit children being served meal in different plates at an Anganwadi centre in Theni- File Photo

MADURAI: For almost 43 years from 1970, Dalit students were never given admission in a government middle school in Kurayur, T. Kallupatti, near here, villagers said. Such is the level of discrimination that the children had to trek long distances from their home to other schools, they charged.

Baffled, a Madurai based NGO, Evidence, obtained the information under the RTI Act and found that the school, which was established in 1964, had stopped admitting Dalit children since 1970. “I have the data issued by the government officers,” its Executive Director A. Kathir said. In the southern districts of Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Tuticorin, teachers are known for discriminating Dalit students on school campuses. These students were used as a tool by the non-Dalit teachers to get menial tasks done , faculty members from Madurai Kamaraj University, who are familiar with instances of caste discrimination in the southern region, told The Hindu .

In 2012, after a child was forced to clean the toilets in a panchayat union school in Vedankulam in Tirunelveli district, the National Human Rights Commission recommended the State government to impose a fine of Rs. 25,000 on the school headmaster. It also directed the police to register criminal case against the person .

In a bid to identify themselves as non-Dalits, some students from caste Hindu communities wore colour vests, in Virudhunagar district in 2013, with the portraits of their leader. When the issue led to a controversy, the government intervened and directed all the Education Department officials to ensure that students wore only white vests or shirt.

Fed up over the discrimination, a Dalit, who had named his son Saathi Olippu Veeran (a warrior who would eliminate caste), was attacked by a group of caste Hindus in 2014. The boy’s father lodged a complaint and the case is on.

Mr. Kathir said absence of social dialogue had contributed to high incidence of discrimination on school campuses. Just as how the villages are disciplined by various caste groups, the schools in these locations are also under the rule of the dominant caste, he added.

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