KERALA FLOODS: Dalits face ‘apartheid’ at relief camp

Setting off a controversy, Janam TV, a Malayalam news channel with leanings towards with the BJP, today reported that displaced people belonging to scheduled castes at a relief camp in Aleppey were moved to a separate relief camp due to protests from another community.

The ‘apartheid’ took place at a relief camp run by the state government at Anjalimood LP school at Pallikad in Aleppey, according to the report.

The channel also showed what it said was an order by the District Magistrate asking the local Tehsildar to conduct an inquiry into the matter. This was following the intervention of revenue minister E Chandrasekharan, the channel said.

PN Vijayakumar, Chairman of Kerala SC-ST Commission asked for quick action from the side of district administration to stop the discrimination.

“It is an insult to the entire state if camps are set up separately for different castes and religions,” he said in an interview with Janam.

The channel’s report carried the testimony of a woman, who alleged that a section of the people who were put up at the relief camp refused to “live with” Dalits and sought separate food and living quarters from the Panchayat authorities.

“When we arrived, we found the organizers dividing (food) stuff into two,” said a woman at the camp.

“When we asked them what was going on, they said, one is for general and the other is for SC. When we probed further, they said they wanted a separate camp.”

An estimated 22 Dalit households are present at the camp.

“They said that people who do (manual) labor at our (farms) cannot cook for us,” said another person at the camp.

Subsequently, said Janam, the local Village Officer and the Panchayat member for the ward came to the location and moved the non-Dalit families to a separate location.

Locals said they tried to reach the local MLA, who belongs to the Congress Party, but was not able to get their point across to him.