VILLUPURAM: An Irular girl, profiled by The New Indian Express for scoring well in Class 12 exams, was allegedly assaulted by members of a dominant caste at the Village Administrative Officer’s (VAO) office on Saturday for merely striving to get a caste certificate.
M Dhanalakshmi scored 354 in her Class 12 exams, but lack of a community certificate to prove she was an Irular has been a stumbling block to her ambitions. Several petitions had gone in vain. The New Indian Express recently carried a report on how Dhanalakshmi's older sisters discontinued their education after school because of the same issue. After the TNIE report, officials had visited their settlement for an investigation.
According to Dhanalakshmi, the family was asked, by the Vaanur Revenue Divisional Officer, to go to the VAO office on Saturday for inquiry. “However, a few villagers gathered in the office to protest our demand, alleging we were not tribals,” she said. As Dhanalakshmi’s family enjoys some traditional temple rights, the dominant caste Hindu villagers were reportedly of the view that a person from an ST (Scheduled Tribe) having such rights would be an insult.
“They said we should be given a certificate under the MBC category because an ST certificate would be an insult to the traditional temple rights given to us. So I asked that if they think of us as MBCs are they willing to take a bride from our family and treat us equally," said an anguished Dhanalakshmi. This query, according to her, led to a physical altercation.
"They (the dominant community members) hit her on the head and pushed her down but I stopped her from falling on the floor," said Dhanalakshmi’s mother Dhatchayini. "My daughter asked the right question but they were unable to digest the truth from a young girl. We have filed a case and police have promised to take action if we get the community certificate," she added.
Vaanur Deputy Superintendent of Police Ajay Thangam said police would inquire with the RDO and further investigate the case. “A case will be registered under SC/ST Act once they receive the community certificate," he said.