MADURAI: Caste discrimination in the Southern districts has gone worse to such an extent that even classroom lessons on Dr B R Ambedkar are being frowned upon. An official probe into the recent attack on a Dalit boy at Thiruthangal in Virudhunagar district revealed that even teachers at the SR Government Higher Secondary School are being prevented from teaching about Ambedkar by caste Hindu students.
“Action should be initiated against the education officer who failed to take action on the students who prevented teachers from taking lessons on the Father of Indian Constitution BR Ambedkar in the school,” reads a resolution passed during a peace committee meeting conducted on September 5 by Revenue and Police officials in the presence of both community members.
Detailing the discriminatory practices prevailing in the school, Shiva (name changed), the boy who is undergoing treatment at the Government Rajaji Hospital in Madurai told Express: “If teachers handle topics on Ambedkar in the class, Caste Hindu students will immediately create a ruckus. Some have even hurled stones.”
A class XI student of the Thiruthangal school, Shiva said that teachers were scared to reprimand the unruly caste Hindu students. “Our complaints have not evoked any action. Instead, teachers will ask us to remain silent,” he alleged. “If we question their discriminatory behaviour, the Caste Hindu students will bring the elders from their community and thrash us while we return home from school,” he said.
The school management too doesn’t stop the caste Hindu students when they celebrate their community leaders’ anniversaries on the school premises, said Shiva, adding, “They used to draw graffiti of their caste leaders on the compound walls of the school.”
A Kathir, executive director of Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO working for Dalit rights, says, “The Thiruthangal school is not an isolated case. Caste Hindu leaders are trying to project Ambedkar as the leader of a particular caste and encourage the students to make derogatory remarks against him on school campuses.”
Recalling one such incident at Duraisamypuram village in Sivakasi taluk in 2013, Kathir said that the villagers caught a caste Hindu student writing derogatory comments about Ambedkar at a school and demanded police action against him.
“However, we pacified them saying that punishing the boy might affect him psychologically and that he was only being used as a tool by the Caste Hindu leaders, who should be warned for misguiding the students,” he said.
If this trend continued, such people would soon stop abiding by the Constitution since it was drafted by Ambedkar, he added.