CUDDALORE: Even as Jayaraj steps inside the RDO’s office, an employee sitting there will look away from him and into the calendar. He will announce a fresh date, even before Jayaraj can ask about the status of his community certificate. This has become a ritual over the past 18 months. The 21-year-old mathematics graduate has lost all hope, but has not given up his attempts.
Back in 2018, Jayaraj was an inspiration for the children and youngsters in Samy Nagar, an Irula hamlet in the outskirts of Cuddalore. He had obtained an ST community certificate and was determined to study further. He finished graduation, without major hassles. However, then arose a community certificate conundrum.
“I went through my entire schooling without a community certificate,” explains Jayaraj. “Later, I realised that it would be helpful to have an ST certificate, as I would get fee concessions, scholarships, and other government benefits. So, I applied for an SC certificate. I knew I belonged to the ST category, but I just thought it would be easier securing an SC paper.” He got an SC certificate. However, later, officials conducted inquiries and gave him an ST certificate too, in 2018. Now, he has two community certificates in hand, and his ordeal has been about getting the SC certificate cancelled. “I have been running pillar to post, and it’s taking a toll on my physical, mental, and financial health,” he says.
Jayaraj, so far, has submitted three letters and five petitions. “Over the time, officials have misplaced them,” he claims. “When I approached the RDO office, they told me to submit both my certificates. But, I was apprehensive, as they had misplaced by petitions and documents earlier. It took the officials nearly two months to even see my documents.” Jayaraj says he has made multiple trips to Chennai and regular visits to the RDO office.
“They are yet to cancel my SC certification.” Jayaraj was recently asked to go see the Cuddalore Tehsildar. “But when I went there, they said they were unaware of the procedures through which they can sort out my case. I am deeply worried. If even the officials do not know what to do, what will I do?” Jayaraj at least had the grit to fight. Three of his friends gave up and discontinued studies after class 12. “I kept persuading them not to give up. But, their family situations were such that they could not afford this fight. It consumes too much time and money. They gave up.”
Agreeing that there have been some problems in issuing community certificates to Irulas, Director of TN Tribal Welfare Department Ritto Cyriac says that he has been regularly instructing revenue department officers to consider deserving cases without any undue delay