VIRUDHUNAGAR: It has been decades since they were reportedly made to descend from the hills and forests but the tale of woes of people belonging to Malaikuravar community is yet to end. One such tale is about the relentless battle with the authorities to obtain community certificate for their children.
"The fate of your and your generation's caste lies in my hands," are the words 63-year-old K Velu has been encountering for years now from the officials.
Velu, the general secretary of Malaivaazh Makkal Pazhangudiyinar Malaikuravan Nalavurimai Sangam, has been supporting and guiding the youth to get educated and get a decent job. However, it has been a daunting task for the sexagenarian, given the trials in obtaining an ST community certificate.
Speaking to TNIE, Velu said while two generations of the people belonging to their community received an ST - Malaikuravar community - certificate, the third generation is denied one. "We had applied for community certificates for 13 children in 2019, of whom an inquiry commission by District Level Vigilance Committee was held only for four in 2020. Except for the four, they rejected certificates to all others claiming their religious practices differed and they had undergone inter-caste marriage," he said. Even after the State government said their community certificates should be provided online, there seems to be a bias on the officials' side, the people alleged.
A 43-year-old person seeking anonymity for the fear of being isolated and not getting a certificate for his child said while the officials are ready to provide community certificates for other castes, they insist on in-person inquiry for those belonging to ST category. One Senthilkumar (40) said both him and his wife have ST - Malaikkuravar - certificates but their child was not provided one since 2017.
"The larger picture seems like it is an attempt for erasure of the entire community. The committee had asked about our food practices, source of livelihood and other details, which we provided genuinely. But certificates for our children were denied," said Velu who also alleged some of the officials demanded bribe to provide them the certificates.
When District Backward and Minorities Welfare Officer (DBCMWO) (in-charge for Department of Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare) Sankar Narayanan was contacted, he said appeals of four persons were forwarded to the RDO concerned by the collector.
When RDO Pushpa was contacted, she said no petition was received so far. Meanwhile, Rajapalayam Tahsildar Ramachandran said no petition regarding ST-Malaikkuravar was at his disposal.
Velu said that the officials state that they are not 'Malaikuravargal' and were 'Hindu - Kuravargal', as some of them have SC certificates, and their origin does not fall here.
Senthilkumar (51) - father of two children - residing at Rajapalayam who works at a hotel said, "My daughter is studying in class 10 and we have been asking for a certificate for three years now. But there is no answer at all. The school administration has been demanding the certificate for years and I had been managing by producing my certificate and those of my family. My son is a person with disability and is also awaiting his community certificate."
The parents of the 13 children are left with the same question : "Is this a plan hatched to erase our community altogether from society?