Dalit children to miss out on education

Still in a state of shock and disbelief, the Dalits of K. Pichampatty, where a 17-year-old girl was raped and murdered, have decided not to send their children to the only school in the village.

“Most of the girls are scared following the gruesome murder of my daughter. I am not ready to lose another daughter. I have decided against sending her to the school situated in an unsafe location,” says Nagavalli, mother of the victim. Her younger daughter is in Class V.

Most parents of Dalit children here share the same view.

Alleging discrimination against Dalits in the village, they said the safety of their children would be at stake if they went to the school — situated in a place inhabited by caste Hindus — especially after the incident.

“Our children have been undergoing mental agony for long because of the sarcastic comments made by the upper caste people. There have been incidents of discrimination at school,” says D. Mangaiyarkarasi, another Dalit. The parents of Dalit students have decided to get the transfer certificate for their wards from the school because of lack of safety and security.

Located 25 km from here, K. Pichampatty, where the horrific incident occurred on Monday night, is yet to overcome its grief. The thatched shed in front of the victim’s house has also become a meeting point for human rights activists.

To express solidarity with the family of Ponnusamy, the girl’s father and a farmhand, the residents of the Dalit colony did not go to work.

“Monday’s act of violence is yet another example that the Dalits have always been soft targets. The wound will take a long time to heal,” says S. Anandan, a resident.

Terming the incident “most unfortunate,” K. Kandasamy, district secretary, Communist Party of India (Marxist), on a fact finding mission, said it was a case of violence against the oppressed community. “If the police had acted firm on similar offences reported in the district in recent past, this crime could have been avoided,” he says.

School remains closed

Meanwhile, the Panchayat Union Middle School remains closed for the second successive day.

“The school is closed because of the tense situation. Reopening will depend on the law and order situation,” said District Elementary Education Officer M. Ponnammal.

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