VILLUPURAM: The forest land of Jakkampettai in Tindivanam taluk flashed across newspapers four years ago when 28-year-old K Samanthi died due to a seizure. No road led to the tribal settlement, forcing its residents to carry her to the ambulance stationed a kilometre away. The light at the end of the tunnel was barely visible for the 12 families, residing in eight huts until one boy decided to carry a torch of enlightenment.
For over four generations, there was no one from the settlement who had passed Class 10. S Rajasekaran defied the odds this year by burning the midnight oil for the empowerment of his community. “Even my teachers said I would fail, especially in Mathematics. Yet, I scored 52 in that subject. This is not enough, as I will have to work harder for Classes 11 and 12. My ambition is to become an IPS officer as it is a respectful job,” the 15-year-old spoke with clarity.
However, hurdles are aplenty. The settlement does not have a proper power connection and relies on a solar light provided to them by social workers. The perilous condition was reported by TNIE in December 2019. Following this, Aadhaar, ration cards, and community certificates were distributed to most of the residents, by the then deputy collector of Tindivanam Dr S Anu in 2020.
However, as the settlement did not have a registered patta, the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board did not provide the residents EB connection. The patta has now been issued, yet the residents lack a proper roof over their heads, said sources.
“I study at Singanur government high school, which is two kilometres away from my settlement. An activist, D Rajesh, had distributed bicycles for children in our area for pursuing education. He even helped me buy guidebooks and stationery items, which enabled me to pass the exam,” Rajesekaran said with beaming eyes.
In addition to electricity connections, the boy demanded that the state government provide community certificates to a few children in his settlement and stressed the need for a proper drinking water facility. “We have to go to a nearby village to fetch two pots of water, that too, once in two days,” he lamented.
If it takes a village to tell a story, Rajasekaran’s efforts prove it takes the children to create that village.
With the road of social justice still long ahead, he hopes the right to lead a dignified life for his community will not be limited to a mirage. In his own words, “Tribal people must not suffer in any way,
anymore. I want to grow up and resolve this injustice.”