A group of people belonging to the Dalit community have alleged that they faced caste discrimination at a relief camp at Pallippad panchayat in Alappuzha district.

Fifty-six members of the community, belonging to 23 families, registered a complaint with Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and District Collector S. Suhas, stating that members of the Christian community had humiliated them at a relief camp functioning at Anjilimoodu L.P. School. Mr. Suhas has ordered a probe into the complaint.

Manhandling charge

They said members of the Christian community had moved to another camp, refusing to share space and food prepared by the Scheduled Castes (SC) community.

Tinu Vijayan, a Dalit community member, told
The Hindu
that he and his community members were mistreated. “We moved to the camp on July 18. On the same evening, officials brought food and other relief materials to the camp. A group from the Christian community soon reached the camp and demanded their share. We told them that we share space and prepare food at the camp itself. But they were not ready to do so. They showered casteist remarks on us and manhandled a few of us. They filed a police complaint alleging that we had misbehaved with their girls,” he said.

Dalit community members said that Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala who visited the camp on Friday was not ready to listen to their complaint. “He first visited the Christian group who are residing at a nearby house. When he reached our camp we tried to bring the issues to his notice, but he was not ready to listen,” Tinu said.

The other version

However, Rachel, a member of the Christian group, denied the allegations. “There were some issues at the camp over supplies. However, no one used casteist remarks or discriminated against the Dalit community. Someone recorded a video of the girls with us and people questioned it. We decided to move to another place as the school cannot accommodate so many people. I have been living among the Dalit community and some of them are my friends,” she said.

Meanwhile, officials said the two communities were living separately but it was not a case of caste discrimination.

“These are two communities from the same place. After the floods, we shifted them to a relief camp. But some differences emerged and we decided to shift a group to another place. The issue has nothing to do with caste discrimination,” Karthikappally tahsildar P.N. Sanu said.

Officials added that 28 families belonging to the Christian community, who were moved to another place, were treated as a part of the relief camp at Anjilimoodu L.P. School.

“We are providing relief materials to both the groups,” said an official.

T.K. Sujatha, local ward member, said the controversy was unnecessary. “These are politically motivated charges. There was no caste discrimination at the camp,” she said. Hindu Aikya Vedi members, led by the outfit’s Alappuzha district vice president Sreyas S. Nampoothiri, visited the camp and declared solidarity with the Dalit community.

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