A shopkeeper was arrested for practising untouchability and refusing to sell snacks to Scheduled Caste children at Panjankulam under Karivalamvanthanallur police station limits in Tenkasi district.
A video that went viral on social media shows a group of schoolchildren coming to a shop in Panjankulam for buying snacks and candies. They are told by a person that no shop in the village will give them snacks or anything. He instructs the confused children to tell their family members that the shops will not sell them anything based on a “decision” taken by the elders of an intermediate caste.
When one of the children innocently asks about the “decision”, the person says the village elders have decided not to sell anything to Scheduled Caste families. After standing helplessly for a few seconds, the children leave the spot.
On coming to know of the video, District Collector P. Akash conducted an inquiry and found that it was shopkeeper S. Maheshwaran who refused to sell snacks and candies to the children based on the decision taken by the members of his caste following a minor clash between the members of the two castes.
A police inquiry found that some youth from the intermediate caste and the Scheduled Caste in Panjankulam had a scuffle during a wedding recently. Subsequently, the police booked some intermediate caste youth under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and registered a case against a few Scheduled Caste youth based on the complaint preferred by the opposite group.
Against this backdrop, K. Ramachandran alias Murthy, 20, an intermediate caste youth of South Street in the village who wanted to join a defence force, could not appear for the selection as he was one among the accused in the case registered under the SC/ST Act. A meeting organised to restore peace in the village and withdraw the complaints filed by both sides failed to resolve the issue.
Subsequently, a meeting conducted by the intermediate caste families allegedly decided not to sell anything to the SC families in their shops.
After arresting Murthy in connection with the case registered earlier, Karivalamvanthanallur police also nabbed shopkeeper Maheshwaran on Saturday. Meanwhile, Revenue Department officials sealed the shop of Maheswaran for allegedly practising untouchability.
Further investigations are on.