NCSC Chief Holds Probe Into 'Discrimination' Against Dalits

NCSC Chief Holds Probe Into 'Discrimination' Against Dalits

National Commission for Scheduled Castes Chairman P L Puniya today held a spot inquiry into the alleged discrimination against Dalits in the use of a funeral pathway at a village in the district.

Puniya visited Thirunalkondacherry and interacted with various sections of the residents as part of his probe into the alleged discrimination which came to fore when the body of a 100-year old Dalit was not allowed to be carried through a particular path following "objections" by caste Hindus.

Later talking to reporters, Puniya said he would submit a detailed report to the commission and assured appropriate action.

Sellamuthu passed away on January 3 and his family members wanted to take the body to burial ground through a particular route as their regular funeral pathway was full of bushes and thorns.

However, caste Hindu members raised objection to this following which Sellamuthu's grandson had moved the Madras High Court.

On January 4, the HC directed the district administration and police to swiftly act on his plea for permission to use the pathway to the burial ground.

Subsequent peace talks by the district administration with members of the dominant community failed, following which the family complained of discrimination.

Relatives of the deceased had alleged that on January 6, authorities forcibly took the body to the burial ground through a different road despite their opposition.

Taking cognisance of the media reports in this regard, the NCSC Chairman visited the village for the spot inquiry.

Noting that Tamil Nadu had been a land of social revolution from the days of Periyar E V Ramaswamy, Puniya said, "It is unfortunate that such acts of discrimination are still reported in this state."

He said the incident reflected the mindset of the people in general. "Anyone can walk on any road. Nobody objects that. However, when bodies are to be taken, objections are being raised. Preventing the dead body to be taken on any particular road based on caste is a serious offence," he said.

Action would surely be taken and social justice would be ensured, he added.

According to Dalit members of the village, the burial ground being used by them was located about three kms away and on the banks of a river.

Dalits have been demanding for a proper road to reach the burial ground as the present one had become full of bushes and thorns, they claimed.

In view of this, they had decided to use the other pathway, triggering objections from the caste Hindus.

Ironically, in November last, when the wife of Sellamuthu passed away, similar issue had cropped up and her body was carried by revenue officials.


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