Lack of community certificate leaves student from vulnerable section in the lurch

It may be noted that Poovalingam's parents Chinnadurai and Saraswathi have been demanding a community certificate from the revenue department ever since their son passed Class 10.
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

THOOTHUKUDI: Despite scoring big in the Class 12 examination this year, 17-year-old C Poovalingam's dream of securing college admission is taking a hit as he does not possess a community certificate. His parents' efforts which have lasted years, to secure a certificate for the boy claiming to be from Kattunayakan community, were dealt a severe blow on Tuesday when Tiruchendur Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) S Buhari said they could not be provided the certificate as they were not able to clearly chalk out their family tree.

Hailing from the nondescript Ammanpuram village near Arumuganeri, Poovalingam managed to score 508 marks (84.67%) in the Class 12 examination. He also managed to secure a seat for B.Com course at a popular arts and science college in Tiruchendur, through counselling conducted by Manonmaniam Sundaranar University. However, his happiness was short-lived as the college management denied him admission as he could not produce a community certificate.

It may be noted that Poovalingam's parents Chinnadurai and Saraswathi have been demanding a community certificate from the revenue department ever since their son passed Class 10. Chinnadurai earns a living as a daily wage laborer. Their claims of the family belonging to an indigenous Kattunayakan tribe came under question, and Tiruchendur RDO held inquiries into their blood relations.

Despite submitting the Kattunayakan certificates obtained by three relatives, the RDO continued to claim that they didn't meet the 'Kattunayakan' criteria. Prior to the RDO investigation, the Tiruchendur tahsildar had said in his findings that Chinnadurai is a native of Alwarthirunagari village and a hunter who reared pigs and knit Korai grass mat to make ends meet. Further, Saraswathi wears a thali ornamented with 'pottu with black beads'.

Her relative Senthil Murugan and Chinnadurai's blood relation Gnanamoorthy received a 'Hindu Kattunayakan' certificate on December 16, 2016, from the then Tiruchendur RDO. Moreover, Gopalakrishnan, another close blood relation of Chinnadurai, was provided the community certificate as early as June 19, 1990. Nine years later, another relative of  Saraswathi was issued the document by Kovilpatti RDO.

In his letter to the RDO on November 15 last year, the tahsildar had confirmed Poovalingam's family to be belonging to the 'Hindu Kattunayakan tribe' on the basis of their identities and culture.

Speaking to TNIE, Chinnadurai said his forefathers migrated from Rajapalayam to Kovilpatti, and then again to Alwarthirunagari. "I brought my family to Ammanpuram as I could get some coolie jobs here. We speak a dialect closely related to Kannada and Telugu. My son studies well and he wants to become a lawyer. It is disappointing to note that his dream is getting shattered midway for want of a community certificate", he said.

Meanwhile, in a press statement on Tuesday, RDO Buhari said the applicants could not chalk out their family tree properly. "Besides, their habitat, culture, deity worship, skill, traditional control, and status of relatives, do not connect them to the Hindu Kattunayakan tribe. An order declining their certificate request was issued on May 23," he added.

When asked, VCK town secretary Viduthalai Chezhian said community certificates were not provided to people from vulnerable sections of the society during the previous 10-year AIADMK regime. "Unfortunately, the situation has not changed even now. So, seeking the document for Poovalingam, we will hold a protest in front of Tiruchendur bus stand on June 9," he added.

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