VILLUPURAM: Twenty-two Irula families from T Parangini village in Vannur resorted to a sit-in protest at the Villupuram Revenue Divisional Officer’s office on Thursday demanding that M Dhanalakshmi of the community be given a community certificate.
The protest began in the afternoon and ended only by 10 pm after officials assured the document would be given before the last date for applications to her preferred course.
Dhanalakshmi, who completed her Class 12, has already submitted 14 documents to prove that she is an Irula.
Without the certificate, she will be unable to apply to colleges for higher education.
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Dhanalakshmi, who had already petitioned the district officials for speedy action, said she wanted to apply for the BSc Agriculture course at the Gandhigram Rural Institute but the last date to send in applications is August 31.
Villupuram RDO Rajendran said an anthropology officer's investigation was required to ascertain that Dhanalakshmi belonged to the Irula community as villagers from the dominant caste have alleged that her family is not Irula.
Only after a detailed report from the anthropology officer could any decision be made, he said.
"The last date for applications is nearing and I am anxious about getting this certificate. I have provided so much proof that I am an Irula but still the officials refuse to settle my case, putting my education at stake," Dhanalakshmi said.
Documents Dhanalakshmi has already submitted include the community certificate of her maternal cousins stating they are Irula and a patta issued to her father in the 1990's mentioning him as “Hindu-Irular”.
The 22 families that joined the protest demanded that community certificates be issued to the others as well.
"We can't wait every year for the results to be announced... we need to settle this issue right here, right now," said 45-year-old protester Parameswari (name changed), the mother of two girls aged six and 14.
As the families showed no sign of budging, the RDO, at 10 pm, issued a statement assuring that Dhanalakshmi would get a community certificate before August 31 once the anthropology report comes in.
He refused to comment on the protest when The New Indian Express contacted him for a response.