Wednesday, December 30, 2009
All you knew sandal wood VEERAPPAN at Sathyamangalam here till existing untouchability and atrocities .
Here some example discrimination two glass system in public tea shops .There is no entry in common temple .
Dalit(Arunthathiyer) till they have to tell death message for upper caste .
Therefore tomorrow on 31st 2009 ,DYFI,and Untouchability eradication front jointly organize the Dharna at Sathyamangalam .
Saturday, December 19, 2009
18th Dec 2009 Safai Karamachary Andolan(SKA) Conducted state level consultation for eradicate inhuman dignity on Manual scavenging at Chennai -Asha nivas . This state level consultation discuss various issues and recommendation.
2010 as a peoples organizations with Manual scavengers they will conduct the state level conformance for eradicate manual scavenging .This is not only that but also peoples declaration for "we will not do Manual scavenging " This is a political declaration for state and society .
Friday, November 6, 2009
Vanimuthu (Alias) R. Arumugam Aged 48 he was lived in Jawahar Colony in Pattinam kaathan Panchayet, Mandapam Union, and Ramanatha Puram District. He Belongs to Arunthathiar Community. He was worked in Tamil Nadu Water Supply department in Group “D”. Vanimuthu has wife and Three Children. Two sons and one daughter.
Last October 18th (18/10/09) Evening 7:30PM he was Killed by strangers near his house. The next day (19/10/09) morning one person named ‘Pandiyarajan’ from ‘Aasari’ upper caste Community is surrendered in Ramanatha Puram Police Station and gave the statement that “Arumugam had the wrong relationship with his Mother so he killed Arumugam”.
But, That Village Arunthathiyar Community people are refused to accept the statement. Because, there is no any relation between the Murder and the Surrendered Person.
But the real thing was on the basis of Gathering information, there was a community hall built in their village. But, the Key was not hand over to the people. The Panchayet leader Mrs. Kavitha Kathiresan only handling the key.
The Panchayet leader Mrs. Kavitha Kathiresan has the power and support of elected parties. In this condition our Vanimuthu so many times asked and argued about the Community Hall key with the panchayet leader. The panchayet leader threatened Mr. Vanimuthu. So the relationship was broken each other.
That village Arunthathiyar people says Mr. Vanimuthu was supported for Arunthathiar issues .
The People who saw the incident are not witnessing about the murder.
On 19/10/09 in front of Ramanatha Puram Government Hospital the Arunthathiyar Peoples and relatives are rejects to get the Post mortem Body. Because, they insists to arrest the real accused person Mrs. Kavitha Kathiresan. 150 Peoples are involved in road strike. The police arrests 150 people those who are involved in strike including 50 women and case filed against these people. The case was failed against pandiyarajan in SC /ST Act.
Viduthalai Ciruthaigal (VC), Aathi Tamilar Peravai (ATP), Arunthathiar Human Rights Forum (AHRF) are continuously supports this issue.
The real situation is there is no relationship between the incident and the Surrendered person. So the arunthathiyar people’s request is real accused Person want to arrest and punish. Police case filed against the 150 Arunthathiyer for road strike .
1. Need to arrest the real acuest under SC/ST Act
2. Counter case on 150 Arunthathiyers case have to get withdraw
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
CPM and Arunthathiyer peoples movements conducted Tamilnadu head quater at Chennai rally for proper implementation of Arunthathiyer reservation near 25000 people participated through out Tamilnadu .
Our Sakkiyer cultural was participated
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Monday, October 5, 2009
Anupar Palayam is a village in Sathyamangalam Block in Erode District. There are around sixty Arundhatiyar families who in this village in extreme poverty, having no land and working as bonded laborers’ on the upper caste communities’ farms. The upper caste community mostly comprises of the landlords from the Naikkar community.
Mr.Chinnagurunathan, an arundhatiyar aged 50 years, works as an agricultural labour in this village. He lives with his wife and two children. On September 13, 2009, in the evening an one old arundhatiyar woman passed away. Her funeral was arranged at the village temple. One Mr.Chinnagurunathan told the family not to arrange the funeral at the temple since it is a place of worship. After some time one Mr.Selvaraj, a upper caste community leader came at the temple and started beating Chinnagurunathan by a stick without even making any enquiry. He used foul language and showered abuses on Chinnagurunathan. Mr.Chinnagurunathan received severe injuries on his head, left eye and legs. He was admitted in a private hospital in Sathyamangalam. Later he was taken to Gobichettipalayam Government Hospital and then referred for further treatment at Coimbatore Government hospital on 24th to 27th Sept 2009.
A case of atrocities upon Chinnagurunathan was filed in the Sathyamangalam Police Station on 14th Sept bearing number FIR No.667/2009/ Act SC/ST 3(I)(10) and IPC 324. Till now the perpetrator has not been arrested.
1. Arundhtiyar community face discrimination at the hands of the upper caste community mainly the Naikkars. The discriminative practices are violative of the fundamental rights of the arundhatiyar community. The Arunthathiyer are not allowed to sit on the mat , chair ,cot or any place near the upper caste person’s house, land or his environment. The arunthathiyers have to remain standing in the presence of an upper caste person.
2. The discrimination against the arundhatiyar community is so deep rooted that till today a two glass system exists in the village
3. Arunthathiyers are not allowed to ride a bicycle and if they do happen to have one, then they have to get down the bicycle as soon as they spot a person from upper caste community.
4. The use of the river in the village is restricted for the arundhatiyars. They are not allowed to use the river water for their daily needs.
5. The schools miday meals scheme for children is also infested with discrimination against arundhatiyar children-the arundhatiyar children are provided the meals in a separate queue than the children from the upper caste community.
6. The ICDS centres does not provide dishes for the Arunthathiyer children.
7. In the government run buses, the Arunthathiyer are not allowed to sit in the presence of an upper caste person or child.
8. In the village not a single arundhatiyar person us enrolled under the NREG scheme.
1. The perpetrator of the brutal attack on Chinnagurunathan has to be arrested immediately.
2. The Police department is required to take prevention action in Arundhatiyar communities and villages as per the SC/ST Act
3. The victim have to be provided with compensation and protection as per SC/ST Act
4. The District Education department needs to take immediate action to prevent the discrimination in school and ICDS centres against Arundhatiyar children
5. The Dsitrict administration needs to ensure that all Arundhatiyar adults in need of employment are provided benefits under the NREG scheme
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
THE PITS: The Madras High Court in November 2008 had banned the entry of human beings into manholes, except in specific situations.
CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has formed a 13-member special committee to come up with suggestions that would enable the authorities to eradicate manual scavenging.
The committee would also examine various aspects relating to the sewerage system in metropolitan cities and other parts of the State to remove defects in the system.
Passing further orders on a contempt petition seeking to take note of “wilful disobedience” by the authorities of a court order asking them to take steps to eradicate manual scavenging, a Division Bench comprising Justices F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and B. Rajendran said the panel should submit its report with suggestions and recommendations to improve the system and maintain the overall environment. This should, preferably, be done within two months.
Following a writ petition filed by A. Narayanan of Virugambakkam, the High Court in November 2008 banned the entry of human beings into manholes and septic tanks in the State, except in specific circumstances.
The court had asked the authorities to take measures to ensure that all forms of manual scavenging were eradicated.
In his contempt petition citing Niranjan Mardi, Secretary, Municipal Administration and Water Supply Department; and Shiv Das Meena, Chairman and Managing Director, Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board (CMWSSB) as respondents, Mr. Narayanan said they had not taken the court’s directions with the seriousness it deserved. The petitioner prayed the court to take note of the “wilful disobedience” by the authorities of the court order.
The Bench said the committee, headed by the CMWSSB Chairman, would deliberate on issues including ways to regulate or avoid throwing of solid waste into the sewage system, monitor action taken to divert illegal sewage connections given in stormwater drains, and construction of diaphragm chambers in hotels, marriage halls, cattle yards and similar facilities. It would identify equipment or devices to clean septic tanks and sewer systems in times of blockage.
The contempt petition along with the main writ petition should be listed as soon as the report is submitted by the panel, the Bench said.
Monday, August 17, 2009
MADURAI: A Dalit youth who rode a bicycle before caste Hindus was beaten up at Vadivelkarai near Nagamalai Pudukottai in the district on Thursday last. A. Murugan (25) was allegedly attacked by a group of youths.
After the incident, in which he sustained a head injury, the youths filed a complaint against Mr. Murugan and his father, a conservancy worker.
He has been admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital. A case has been filed under Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and under Section 302 against O. Anand at the Nagamalai Pudukottai police station. The Samayanallur Deputy Superintendent of Police is investigating.
In 2007, Mr. Murugan’s brother was attacked for the same reason.
A lone graduate from the Arunthathiyar community, Mr. Murugan has been opposing restrictions imposed upon the community by caste Hindus. He has also been conducting free classes for children belonging to the Dalit community.
Residents alleged that the two-tumbler system still existed in the village; it had changed from coconut shells to disposable cups for Dalits. The caste Hindus were served tea in glass tumblers. The village has 75 Dalit families and more than 500 families of caste Hindus.
Sunday, August 16, 2009
Tamilnadu,Erode.Dt,Sathyamangalam.Tk,CK.Palayam Dalit(Arunthathiyer ) village Punitha(13) years girl rap and murder on 10th Aug 2008 .
Our AHRF intervention to Tamilnadu state women commission .Commission sented letter to District police SP for take immidiyet action .
Monday, August 10, 2009
She told to her husband .Her husband went to ask to owner .":why you abuse my wife " owner told to him .I am a upper caste .I will do any where .Then sudently owner beaten to him .1.08.2009He admitted in hospital in Sathyamangalam .
Compliaint given to police station .But upper caste land lords came and theretan and convenice to him .
Sudently the upper caste youths beat to him .Nigberning upper caste people also gather and beat to him .On the way one upper caste came .He told to them .He is our village Arunthathiyer .In between his wife came from village .The gang beaten to his wife .She got beaten .
6.08.2009 morning Mr.Palanisamy given compliant to Cheyur police sataion .They admitted in Avinashi hospital .But treatment is got .Therefore he admitted in coimbatore government hospital .
Case registred in SC/ST Act 3(I)(10) and IPC .
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Atrocities on Arunthathiyars
Erode. District SC/ST-Atrocity cases
District monitoring committee rejected cases
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Insidious web of bonded labour spreads to margins
— Photo: G. Moorthy EXPLOITED Lot: Women of Meenakshipatti near Kinnimangalam Panchayat in Madurai who returned to their village after working in spinning mills under the Sumangali scheme.
MADURAI: It is hard to find adolescent Dalit girls in Vadivelkarai, Keezhakuilkudi, Vadapalanji, Vellaiparaipatti and Meenakshipatti villages near Madurai. Most of them have left to work in spinning mills at Tirupur, Coimbatore, Dindigul and Theni.
The phenomenon, which started a few years ago, seems to be spreading fast. Appalling economic conditions, social discrimination and cash economy are the factors that have been forcing them to drop out of school and enter the web of bonded labour. Dalit girls are soft targets for agents.
A few villagers said they had to send their children to cities to escape caste discrimination and they used this opportunity to escape dependency and move beyond the confines of dominant castes. The weak economic platform provided by agricultural labour compounded by the seasonal nature of farm work has resulted in a hand-to-mouth existence for these families. With the ever-expanding lobby of agents, now the Valaiyar (also referred to as Mutharaiyars, a Most Backward Class) girls are being lured, as the community has a sociological profile of being hard workers.
R. Pitchai (60) of a Dalit colony in Meenakshipatti, Kinnimangalam panchayat, Tirumangalam taluk, has sent his daughter P. Jayarani to a mill in Erode. She could come here only once in the last two years. He had no choice but to send her there, in order to get her and other daughters married.
K. Alagu (23), who worked as a helper in a mill in Coimbatore in 2007, said she received Rs.45 as daily wage, out of which Rs.10 was taken for food. She was paid an increment of Rs.2 every three months. She was unwell during most of her stay at the mill. M. Pappathi (20), who had worked in a Coimbatore mill for one year, said she was not able to continue for three years as she fell sick whenever there were two shifts. One of the girls said agents got Rs.2,000 whenever they recruited a girl.
The ‘sumangali thittam’ of mills provides jobs to young, unmarried adolescent girls for three years. The promised salary starts at Rs.35 a day in the first six months, with an increment of Rs.2 every three or six months. In reality, the girls do not get paid anything more than Rs.30 per day; in many cases it is Rs.15.
T.V. Parvata Vardhini of Littles Trust, a non-governmental organisation, said many mills had the most exploitative conditions with a high level of extraction of labour. Psychological trauma, abusive language and sexual advances were common features. Common toilets under condition of water shortage resulted in urinary tract infection. Eyesight problems and asthma were other common ailments reported by the girls. However, a few girls who returned to their villages said the facilities were adequate in a few mills but there were no stipulated working hours. They had to work continuously under appalling conditions.
Ms. Parvata Vardhini said Arunthathiyar girls from Dalit colonies migrated in large numbers owing to multiple reasons. A major reason was the lack of government high and higher secondary schools in the area, which might at least check dropouts and encourage girls to continue their studies. Girls from Meenakshipatti had to travel as far as Mahaboobpalayam in the city as only private schools were here, which were unaffordable.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Bill to provide quota to Arunthathiyars passed
Express News Service
First Published : 27 Feb 2009 02:31:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 27 Feb 2009 10:55:34 AM IST
CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a bill for reservation of three per cent seats to Arunthathiyars in educational institutions, including private educational institutions, in the State. There will also be reservations for appointments or posts in the services under the State in Tamil Nadu within the 18 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes.
Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, now convalescing in a hospital after his spinal chord surgery, expressed his joy over the passing of the bill through a letter addressed to the House, which was read out by Local Administration Minister M K Stalin.
Piloting the bill in the House with the thumping of desks from the Treasury bench, Stalin said that the policy of reservation for the social and educational advancement of the people belonging to the Backward Classes in educational institutions in the State and for appointments in its services had been in vogue in Tamil Nadu for a long time.
The representatives of various political parties and social forums representing the Scheduled Castes have requested the State Government to consider providing a special provision for reservation for the group of Arunthathiyars within the reservation provided for the Scheduled Castes as they are in the lowest rung in social and educational fronts in society.
The one-man committee headed by Justice M S Janarthanam considered the issue of providing reservation for Arunthathiyars, within the quota of reservation for Scheduled Castes. The committee has submitted its report to the State Government. The report revealed that the representation of Arunthathiyars, with regard to admissions in educational institutions, professional or otherwise, is rather minimal and the educational opportunities are also knocked away by the upper crust of the hierarchy of castes from among the Scheduled Castes. The term ‘Arunthathiyar’ includes not just Arunthathiyars, but also Chakkiliyan, Madari, Madiga, Pagadai, Thoti and Adi Andhra.
Stalin also said that the State Government had formulated a Rs 22-crore package to provide Arunthathiyars jobs under the selfemployment mode, besides allocating Rs 6.3 crore for buying machinery to remove blocks in manholes in the Chennai Corporation and in nine other corporations in the state by way of helping the scavengers to avoid entering manholes and do manual scavenging.
While AIADMK member K A Senkottaiyan termed the bill as one aimed to make political gains, Deputy Speaker V K Doraisamy, Finance Minister K Anbazhagan, Ministers Parithi Ellamvazuthi and K Ponmudi hailed the bill for its path-breaking nature.
http://www.tehelka.com/story_main33.asp?filename=hub010907shadowlines.asp Some Dalits Are Even Less Equal The Arunthathiyars bear the weight of caste oppression in Tamil Nadu, says R. Adhyaman I belong to the Arunthathiyar community, the most oppressed of the Scheduled Castes in Tamil Nadu, where Dalits comprise 20 percent of the population. Of the 76 communities listed as SCS, the Paraiyars, the Pallars and the Arunthathiyars are the three main groups.Arunthathiyars constitute about one-third of the states Dalit population and live in miserable conditions, working as manual scavengers, cobblers and agricultural labourers. Thousands are employed as conservancy workers in civic bodies. Though they speak Telugu at home, their children go to Tamil medium schools and follow Tamil customs. We are Tamils and thats why I have named my organisation the Adhi Thamizhar Peravai. All Dalits are not equal. Arunthathiyars are looked down upon by other SCS. We bear the whole weight of caste oppression. It is no secret that the two-tumbler system is still prevalent in many villages. But I have news for you. There are villages where they keep three tumblers in tea shops one for the caste Hindu, one for the Arunthathiyar, and one for the non-Arunthathiyar Dalit. The Pallars and Paraiyars think they are superior to us. They dont inter-marry with us. The two Dalit parties in the state, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal (VC, formerly known as Dalit Panthers of India) and Puthiya Thamizhagam, represent the interests of the Paraiyars and the Pallars respectively. In the last Assembly elections, VC contested nine seats as part of the AIADMK front and all nine candidates belonged to the Paraiyar community.There are 44 reserved seats in the Assembly, but Arunthathiyars have never won more than five seats. At present, there are three Arunthathiyar MLAS two in the DMK and one in the AIADMK. Paraiyars are the majority in the northern districts, Pallars in the southern districts, and Arunthathiyars in the western districts. No one except a Paraiyar can contest a reserved seat in the north. Pallars rule the roost in the south. But when it comes to areas where we are in majority, this rule does not apply. Parties field non- Arunthathiyars and win. The benefits of reservation for Dalits in Tamil Nadu have gone to Pallars and Paraiyars. There is 18 percent reservation for SCS. Our demand is that six percent of it should be earmarked for Arunthathiyars. We have represented our demands to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and he has promised to consider the matter. We have also asked him to take steps to abolish manual scavenging. The CM granted one of our demands and formed a welfare board for conservancy workers. Adhiyaman is founder president, Adhi Thamizhar Peravai, a Dalit social movement. As told to PC Vinoj Kumar ___________________________________________________
Tamil Nadu - Salem Sanitary workers demand mechanisation of drainage cleaning work
‘Manual scavenging is barbaric and goes against the conscience of civic society’
‘Nearly 4,000 workers have perished while cleaning manholes in the State in the last 20 years’
SALEM: The contract sanitary workers in local bodies, a majority of them Arunthathiyars, have urged the State Government to immediately ‘mechanise’ the underground drainage cleaning work.
They say that whenever underground drainage gets chocked, they will be lowered down into manholes with a rope tied to their waist.
Many have lost their lives, inhaling poisonous gases.
K.R. Ganesan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Rural Development and Local Administration Employees Sammelan, affiliated to the CITU, told The Hindu that manual scavenging “is barbaric and goes against the conscience of civic society”.
Welcoming the High Court’s directive banning the entry of any human into manholes for cleaning, he said that between December 27, 2006, and September 27, 2007, six scavengers, engaged in cleaning manholes, had died of asphyxiation in Chennai alone.
Such deaths were reported from Coimbatore and Madurai too. As per a rough estimate, nearly 4,000 workers had perished while cleaning manholes and septic tanks in the State in the past two decades, he said.
“Sadly neither have their families received any compensation nor have the police registered any case.”
The Arunthathiyar leaders say that private operators in charge of scavenging in many local bodies tap the untrained Dalit men, mostly from Arunthathiyar colonies. Pittance and pints of alcohol are offered in wages, they say.
“But whenever a fatality occurred, neither the contractor nor the local body would come forward to owe up responsibility,” said Mr. Ganesan, also a member of the Sanitary Workers Welfare Board.
The Arunthathiyar leaders fear the casualty may spike since many municipalities and town panchayats have started underground drainage projects.
The State Government should integrate the abolition of manual scavenging along with the project reports too, they insisted.
The Rural Development and Local Administration Employees Sammelan, which met here recently, announced that it would launch an agitation from November 10 to protest against the privatisation of sanitary works and to demand higher wages and mechanisation of scavenging.
Arunthathiyer community .Who are mostly vulnerable group among dalits .Those are called Dalit Among Dalits Recently we did documentary film on Manual scavenging . our Tamilnadu government says No manual scavengers .But till exsisting .READ publish a documentary film on manual scavening
Please visit the film .
Please visit the film and sent your suggestion
Monday, March 23, 2009
Tamil Nadu “accepts in principle” a 3 per cent quota for a few sub-sects within the existing 18 per cent reservation for the Scheduled Castes.
CPI(M) members led by the party’s State Secretary, N. Varadarajan, in Dindigul on November 2, 2007, demanding a committee to look into exclusive reservation for Arunthathiyars.
ON November 28, 2008, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi announced that the State Cabinet had “accepted in principle” the report of the one-man commission headed by M.S. Janardhanam, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, recommending a separate 3 per cent reservation for Arunthathiyar, Chakkiliyar and a few other sub-sects within the existing quota (18 per cent) for the Scheduled Castes (S.Cs). The announcement was made after an all-party meeting in Chennai.
Janardhanam, who was invited to brief the Cabinet about the commission’s recommendations, said the Arunthathiyar community and others chosen for separate reservation were in the most backward state of development. A Cabinet committee later decided the modalities to implement the recommendations. The Chief Minister said the recommendations would be implemented “immediately” as the basic objective of his government was to uplift the oppressed.
Leaders of almost all political parties hailed the decision. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary J. Jayalalithaa, who initially termed the decision on separate reservation “a political fraud” on the grounds that the State government had no power to “create” reservation within the reservation for the S.Cs., changed her stance the next day and welcomed the proposal. Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi president Thol. Thirumavalavan, who welcomed the decision, wanted the Chief Minister to convene a meeting of Dalit leaders to discuss the “successful implementation” of the 3 per cent reservation for Arunthathiyars.
N. Varadarajan, general secretary of the State Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and R. Athiyamaan, the founder of Adhi Thamizhar Peravai, an organisation of Arunthathiyars, which spearheaded the struggle for separate reservation, demanded the early implementation of the recommendations. Athiyamaan also wanted the quota to be increased to 6 per cent corresponding to their share in the State’s population.
Arunthathiyars, along with Chakkiliyars and a few other sub-castes, belong to the lowest strata of the caste-based social hierarchy and are the worst sufferers of untouchability. A significant section of these people is still used for removing night soil and cleaning underground sewers (see separate story). The traditional occupation of Arunthathiyars is making leather goods. They have played a notable role as makers and menders of kamalai, a leather bag used to draw water from wells to irrigate dryland. A significant number of them have been engaged in agriculture-related activities too.
The famines of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the State forced them to migrate to towns and take up odd jobs as sweepers and manual scavengers.
Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars have been included in the list of S.Cs, who are entitled to 18 per cent reservation in education and employment and reservation in political positions. Together, the two communities account for about 15.5 lakh (13.1 per cent) of the Dalit population (1.18 crore) in Tamil Nadu. Dalits account for 19 per cent of the State’s total population (6.2 crore), according to Census 2001.
Among Dalits, the literacy rate of Arunthathiyars is 53.7 per cent and that of Chakkiliyars is 50.9 per cent. The corresponding figures for others are Paraiyars 65.9, Adi Dravidars 65.3 and Pallars 65. The overall Dalit literacy rate is 63.2 per cent against the State’s 73.5 per cent. The dropout rates among Arunthathiyar and Chakkiliyar children after the primary level are much higher than in Adi Dravidar, Pallar and Paraiyar communities (see table).
One of the reasons attributed to the relative backwardness of Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars in education is that they were late starters. During the British period, sections of the Adi Dravidar, Pallar and Paraiyar communities had the benefit of school education thanks to Christian missionaries. According to a researcher, missionaries did not show any interest in Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars because caste Hindus thwarted the conversion of these people as their services were indispensable to them.
Attempts to improve the lot of Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars were made by community leaders such as L.C. Gurusami, who founded the Arunthathiyar Mahasabha in 1920, and H.M. Jaganathan. They started schools for Arunthathiyar children. However, these schools closed down soon for want of government aid.
The Tamil Nadu Arunthathiyar Sangam, formed in 1958, organised the people in the community to assert their rights. An organisation named Youth Guidance Service, formed in 1984 by first-generation beneficiaries of the statutory reservation system, was the first to demand separate reservation for Arunthathiyars. The Adhi Thamizhar Peravai has also been fighting for the cause of the Arunthathiyars for over a decade now.
The struggle for “reservation within reservation” was intensified in 2007 with a rally organised by the CPI(M) in Chennai, in which over 30,000 Arunthathiyar people participated. The Adhi Thamizhar Peravai, together with the CPI(M), later held many demonstrations and meetings to press their demands for separate reservation.
The State government responded with the formation of a welfare board for Arunthathiyars and convened an all-party meeting in Chennai on March 12, 2008, to discuss the sub-quota demand. The consensus at the meeting was in favour of granting the demand, and the government appointed the Janardhanam Commission.
Issue of imbalance
The issue of imbalance among the different Dalit sub-sects and the need to take corrective steps have been highlighted by an advisory committee on the revision of lists of the S. Cs and the S.Ts as early as 1965.
The committee, headed by B.N. Lokur, the then Secretary of the Union Ministry of Law, observed: “It has been in evidence for some time now that a lion’s share of the various benefits and concessions earmarked for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is appropriated by the numerically larger and politically well-organised communities. The smaller and more backward communities [among the S.Cs] have tended to get lost in the democratic process, though more deserving of special aid….” He said “the time has come when the question of de-scheduling of relatively advanced communities should receive serious and urgent consideration” (“Caste card” by Jagdeep S. Chhokar, Frontline, August 15, 2008).
The judiciary also had occasion to look into the impact of reservation on the communities concerned and the steps to protect the weaker sections. In November 2004, the Supreme Court quashed an Andhra Pradesh Act that categorised the S.Cs into four groups for the purpose of admission to educational institutions and for employment. The Act, which came into being in 2000 replacing an ordinance, was based on the report of a commission the Telugu Desam government led by N. Chandrababu Naidu had appointed in response to a struggle by the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti.
The samiti’s demand was to fix a sub-quota for Madigas, who constitute 40.99 per cent (3,263,675) of the S.C. population in the State. The demand was made on the grounds that Malas, whose share in the S.C. population was only slightly higher than theirs, at 46.94 per cent (3,737,609), had been cornering the benefits of reservation in larger proportions.
The commission agreed that there was a disparity and recommended corrective steps. The government accepted the findings and the Assembly passed the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes (Rationalisation of Reservation) Act, 2000, to remove the disparity. The Act provided for dividing the listed castes into four categories for reservation.
The law was challenged in the High Court and the Full Bench upheld the legislation by four to one. When the issue came up before the Supreme Court on appeal, a five-judge Constitution Bench held that micro-classification of S.Cs into sub-groups and fixing different percentages of reservation for them within the overall S.C. quota was unconstitutional. The Bench said that reservation must be considered from the social objective angle, having regard to the constitutional scheme, and not as a political issue.
The court held that in the context of members of the S.Cs being the most backward among the backward classes, it was not permissible for the government to further classify them into sub-groups. The Bench, headed by Justice N. Santosh Hegde, therefore, quashed the Act holding that such micro-classification was in violation of the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution. The Constitution Bench ruled that such classification of members of different classes of people on the basis of their respective castes would be “in violation of the doctrine of reasonableness”.
It said: “Article 341 of the Constitution provides that exclusion of even of a part or group of castes from the Presidential List can be done only by Parliament. State legislatures are forbidden from doing that.” The court further held that “a uniform yardstick must be adopted for giving benefits to the members of [the] Scheduled Castes for the purpose of the Constitution. The impugned legislation, being contrary to the above constitutional scheme, cannot, therefore, be sustained.”
The Supreme Court decision on the Andhra Act had far-reaching consequences. The Punjab and Haryana High Court held as void the sub-categorisation of S.Cs that was in operation in Punjab since 1975 and in Haryana since 1995. The Andhra Pradesh Assembly and the Punjab government then appealed to the Union government to enact a law to facilitate recategorisation. Soon it was noticed that the problem was not confined to these three States. There were complaints from more States that reservation had led to disproportionate benefits to certain sections of S.Cs at the cost of other sections. Accordingly, the Union government appointed a commission headed by Justice Usha Mehra to go into the issue.
The Usha Mehra Commission, in its report submitted to the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in May 2008, reportedly favoured the classification of the S.Cs into sub-groups with a view to uplifting the status of the deprived lot among them and recommended that the Constitution be amended suitably for the purpose. The commission did not agree with the contention that the S.Cs as envisaged in the Constitution constitute a homogeneous group. It said that in terms of traditional occupation, caste practices and the physical structure of the villages, these castes differed from each other and as such there was apparently no homogeneity among them. The commission also said that its studies had shown that under the existing system there was no possibility of the benefits reaching those at the bottom in due proportion.
The Usha Mehra Commission’s recommendation has received mixed reaction from Dalit leaders. Ram Vilas Paswan, the Union Minister of Chemicals, Fertilizers and Steel, said that sub-categorisation would damage Dalit unity. He said there would not be any consensus on the proposal in the ruling United Progressive Alliance or its major component, the Congress.
While leaders of the disadvantaged Dalit sub-sects across the country have hailed the recommendation, others see it as a threat to Dalit unity. C.P. Prabakara Rao, president of the Andhra Pradesh Mala Mahanadu, said the commission’s recommendation suggesting sub-categorisation of S.Cs would not stand legal scrutiny.
The Union Social Justice Ministry has sent the Usha Mehra Commission’s report to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) for its comments. The Tamil Nadu proposal also has come up before the NCSC for clearance. NCSC Chairman Buta Singh has reportedly promised Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu to place the proposal, which had been approved by the State government “in principle”, before the commission. (Under Article 338 (9) of the Constitution, the governments at the Centre and in the States have to consult the commission whenever they take policy decisions relating to the S.Cs.)
Some sections among the Dalit activists and political parties, however, are sceptical about the early implementation of the proposal. Puthiya Thamizhagam president K. Krishnasamy said the proposal would be in a legal tangle inasmuch as an Andhra Pradesh Act on the subject has been quashed by the Supreme Court.
Dalit activist and member of the State Assembly D. Ravikumar pointed out a technical problem. He said that in the absence of a caste-wise census, the present reservation to Dalits was calculated on the basis of Census 1971, whereas the 3 per cent reservation for Arunthathiyars had been mooted on the basis of Census 2001. He wanted the government to increase the reservation for the S.Cs. from 18 per cent to 19 per cent on the basis of Census 2001 and also clear the backlog of vacancies in government departments.
P. Sampath, State convener of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, hoped that the government would resolve the legal tangles and implement the proposal soon. He said that until manual scavenging and the deployment of Dalits for underground sewerage cleaning were ended, the liberation of Arunthathiyars would be incomplete.