Faith changes, discrimination doesn’t: VCK on reservation for Dalit Christians, Muslims
The Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) has reiterated its demand that Dalit persons belonging to the Christian or Muslim faiths be extended reservation in government institutions for education and employment. The demand comes as Dalit Christians held ‘black day’ on August 10, observed ever since the reservation policy launched on the same day in 1949 was made applicable only to Dalits belonging to the Hindu faith. A statement issued by the VCK, the foremost anti-caste party from Tamil Nadu, said that not extending reservation to Dalits of all faiths is tantamount to denying their Constitutional rights to practice a religion of their choice.
“The caste structure of this religion, which discriminates on the basis of birth, has touched all religions and ruined them. Thus, whichever religion one practices, the oppressed are subject to discrimination. Despite people in power being aware of this, they display inequality by not including Dalit Christians in the Scheduled Caste list. This has to change,” said the statement by VCK chief and Chidambaram MP Thol Thirumavalavan.
Speaking to TNM, VCK General Secretary and Villupuram MP D Ravikumar said that the case regarding this demand has been languishing in the Supreme Court for nearly two decades. “The Ranganath Mishra Commission, the Human Rights Commission, the National Minority Commission have all given a favourable recommendation in this regard. But the UPA didn’t implement it,” he pointed out.
Elaborating on the demand, MP Ravikumar said, “Article 25 of the Indian Constitution gives citizens the right to practice any religion. In doing so, no one should be denied their rights. Just on account of someone converting to another faith, reservation right being taken away is denying their choice of faith. Moreover, even those who converted generations and centuries ago are known as Dalit Christians. Faith may change but the caste discrimination continues. They don’t have the social protection, they can’t get justice under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.”
With pre-testing for Census 2021 currently underway, Ravikumar called for the enumeration of Dalit Christians and Dalit Muslims in the SC list. Echoing this view is Pandian, Executive Director of the Social Awareness Society for Youth NGO. He said that including Dalits of other faiths in the census will reflect the actual number of the Dalit population in the country.
“The percentage of reservation can be increased proportional to the population of Dalits. Of the 18% reservation currently provided, 3% is extended to Arunthathiyars. If they enlarge the reservation, Dalits of other faiths will also receive the benefits and entitlements,” he said.
Slamming successive Congress and BJP governments, Pandian said the reason that the reservation is yet to be extended is to preserve the Hindu majority. Providing historical context, he said, “A Presidential order was passed in 1949 by then President Rajendra Prasad. Paragraph 3 laid out that those who convert to other religions will not be treated as Scheduled Castes. This was clamped down not because they didn’t want people to leave the religion but because conversions would ultimately reduce the Hindu majority of the nation. When BR Ambedkar converted to Buddhism, he was criticised by Gandhi who said that ‘everything can be resolved within the system.’”
Life convicts cannot claim premature release as a matter of right: TN govt to HC
This was the state Home Department’s counter-affidavit to a petition from S Nalini, one of the prime accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
The state Home Department on Tuesday informed the Madras High Court that it was up to the government to decide upon premature release of life convicts and that no such life convict can claim it as a matter of right. This was the State Home Department’s counter-affidavit to a petition from S Nalini, one of the prime accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
Nalini had sought the release of all the convicts as per the decision of the Tamil Nadu cabinet in 2018, recommending their release under Article 161 of the Constitution.
The counter filed before division bench of Justices R Subbiah and C Saravanan, also reiterated that life term meant imprisonment for life. It also stared that there is no violation under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution as alleged by Nalini in her petition. The bench has adjourned the hearing to August 20.
In July this year, the Madras High Court dismissed the petition filed by Nalini and sought directions from Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit to take a call on releasing the convicts. This recommendation is still under consideration.
A few weeks ago, Arputhammal, mother of AG Perarivalan alias Arivu, another life convict in the assassination case, met with Union Home Minister Amit Shah, seeking the release of her son.
Perarivalan— along with Nalini, Murugan, Santhan, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Jayakumar— have been in jail for 28 years after being convicted in the assassination in 1991.
In June last year, President Ram Nath Kovind had rejected the Tamil Nadu government’s plea to release the seven convicts. In September 2018, days after the Supreme Court directed Governor Banwarilal Purohit to take a decision regarding the release of the seven convicts, the Tamil Nadu cabinet recommended their release to the Governor. The matter has been pending before the Governor ever since.
It is the first time in her life that 28-year-old Deepa is seeing destruction of such a massive scale. Deepa and around 110 others live in a small settlement in Nagaroothu in Pollachi range of Anamalai Tiger Reserve. Last Thursday, flash floods washed away more than 25 houses in the region. Deepa and the others fled for their lives, grabbing whatever they could.
The water, in its full force, washed away not just the houses in Nagaroothu, it also took with it a 2-year-old girl named Sundari and left six other persons injured.
Sundari’s body was found only on Tuesday, after over 100 hours of search operations by officials from the Tamil Nadu Forest Department. The body was found buried under the mud in a Feeder canal, about one kilometre away from Nagaroothu.
The Tamil Nadu Forest Department swung into action as soon as news of flash floods spread. However, the lack of electricity in the area obstructed them from carrying out any rescue work in the dark. Hence, it was only on Friday that they could start looking for Sundari.
Valparai received over 500 millimetres of rainfall in a span of three days last week, and of this it received 260 millimetres of rainfall in a single day. The sudden torrential rainfall not only increased the dam levels in the catchment areas of Western Ghats but also caused widespread damage in the region in the form of landslides and water logging.
The roar of water
Deepa remembers that night vividly. “It was nothing unusual. I have seen heavy rains before and so have my parents. So, we were not really worried,” Deepa recollects.
However, soon things began to go out of control.
“It was around 10-11 pm on Thursday night, we had all settled in for the night. We heard a roar getting closer,” she says. It was only after people starting running helter-skelter, calling for their neighbours that they realised something had gone terribly wrong. “People were shouting about water entering houses. So, we all just ran blindly to save ourselves,” she adds.
Nagaroothu settlement lies close to the Contour canal of the Parambikulam- Aliyar project, which takes water from the Uppar dam in the Anamalai range to Thirumurthy dam via Sarkarpathy tunnel. The houses in Nagaroothu settlement was built using steel rods and sheets a few years ago. Heavy rains in the Valparai belt and Western ghats had increased the water flow into the canal.
“There is a hill above where we lived. There are canals above and below us. The rain water this time brought boulders and trees from the hills and blocked the canal above us. Water flowed over to the settlements and washed our houses away,” Deepa says.
The six people who were injured, were admitted to hospitals in Pollachi and in Coimbatore. “Five of them have been discharged and one is still in Government hospital, Coimbatore,” Deepa says.
The people rescued from Nagaroothu have been accommodated at the TNEB colony in Sarkarpathy. “We are being provided with all basic necessities. I have resumed going to work from here. But others are still waiting it out to get back to their lives,” Deepa says.
Courtesy : The News Minute