The Pappanadu police in Tamil Nadu’s Thanjavur district Wednesday arrested a barber shop owner who allegedly refused to provide haircuts to people belonging to Scheduled Caste at the Kilamangalam village after complaints of untouchability practice were raised.
An official from the Pappanadu police told indianexpress.com that the barber shop owner, Veeramuthu, 40, was arrested under provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The official noted the police were also conducting an enquiry on a purported video in which a shopkeeper was seen telling a person from the SC community that he could not sell anything to the person as the villagers had asked him not to.
Members of the Scheduled Caste community claimed in the complaint that tea shops in the village use a two-glass system (one glass for people belonging to the SC community and the other for people from upper castes) and barber shops refuse to provide the people from the SC community service.
A source at the village noted that there are about 200 houses of upper-caste Hindus and 60 houses of the SC community in the village.
“Untouchability is still practised here. We want the police to file a First Information Report (FIR) against people who passed a resolution at the meeting asking other villagers not to sell items to the SC members. The state SC/ST Commission should provide more priority to Orathanadu (the Assembly constituency) and spread more awareness against untouchability,” the source added.
Meanwhile, security has been tightened across the village to avoid any untoward incident.
Earlier, on Tuesday, Lok Sabha MP Dr Ravikumar took to Twitter and shared the complaint letter written by activist Rajendran to the assistant commissioner’s office on behalf of the villagers.
Urging Chief Minister MK Stalin to initiate action on this, Ravikumar also shared a letter he had written to the SC/ST Commission highlighting the ordeal of the villagers. He noted that the SC/ST Commission should conduct an inquiry into the incident and book those who are found guilty.
In the letter, Ravikumar claimed that untouchability has been in practice for several years in the village. He said that on behalf of the SC community, a complaint was lodged regarding the untouchability practice with the tahsildar. The village administrative officer (VAO) and other officials inspected the area on October 2 and came to know that the allegations in the complaint were true, he said. Those found guilty provided a letter to officials assuring they would not indulge in such acts again. However, the same practice continued since November 25, Ravikumar added.
The VCK leader claimed that upper-caste Hindus called for a meeting on November 28 in the village and informed shopkeepers not to sell any items to members of the SC community and they should not be allowed into barber shops. Ravikumar said the upper-caste Hindus also informed the villagers that Rs 500 would be collected from them if they acted against their order. He added that the members of the SC community were not allowed to graze cattle and goats in fields belonging to upper-caste Hindus.