`Officials indifferent to SC, ST problems'

CHENNAI DEC. 24. Welfare associations and non-governmental organisations working for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs & STs) today complained that officials were not helpful in redressing grievances of the "oppressed" communities.

Representatives who met the National Commission for SCs and STs Member, G. Sampath Kumar, here, told newsmen that to get a community certificate, they ran from pillar to post. The welfare organisations charged that a number of vacancies were not filled, though many eligible candidates were available in the communities. Stringent action had not been taken against those who entered government service with fake certificates. In one case, the court directed a Collector to issue community certificate to a person who had joined service with a fake certificate, the organisations alleged. Hundreds of jobs reserved for tribals were cornered by communities using fake certificates. Other complaints included caste Hindus denying permission to SCs to draw water from community wells and access to common burial grounds.

Mr. Sampath Kumar said he would refer the representations to departments concerned. The commission could interfere only if there was harassment of SC and STs. It could not take action when the matter involved policy matters, he added. Mr.Sampath Kumar, in-charge of Orissa, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Pondicherrry and Andhra Pradesh, said the purpose of his visit was to interact with the NGOs and SC and ST members to create awareness that the commission would protect their rights.

The Commissioner, Kannagi Packianathan, said 68 people, belonging to 35 NGOs and welfare associations, submitted petitions.

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