Pappal cooks a feast for more than 100 people and serves a message or two on equality

In a bid to send across a strong message against casteism, members of the Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam (TPDK) on Sunday partook of a ‘Samathuva Virundhu’ feast organised at the residence of Pappal, a Dalit cook at a noon meal centre in Tirupur. A section of the members belonging to the intermediate Hindu castes had recently protested against employing Ms. Pappal as a cook at a noon meal centre, leading to her transfer. However, following protests by various political parties and social activists, her transfer was revoked.

Second to none

The feast cooked by Ms. Pappal was served to over 100 people including those belonging to the Dalit and caste Hindu communities to show that all are equal and marginalised communities are second to none. Provisions and fuel for cooking were supplied by the TPDK.

Mr. Ramakrishnan, general secretary of TPDK, recalled that the noon meal scheme was introduced by former Chief Minister K. Kamaraj to enforce equality among schoolchildren irrespective of caste or creed and it was strictly followed by former Chief Minsters C.N. Annadurai, M. Karunanidhi, M.G. Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa.

“In spite of their efforts, the Dalit cook became a victim of untouchability, due to which she had suffered frequent transfers since her first appointment as a cook,” he said.

‘Crime against humanity’

On the basis of a complaint lodged by her, the Sevoor police have registered a case against 88 persons under the Scheduled Castes and Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Seven persons who were directly responsible for the crime against the Dalit woman should be arrested, Mr. Ramakrishnan urged.

N. Ezhilan, social activist from Chennai, said that the atrocities committed against Ms. Pappal were tantamount to crime against humanity. The government should ensure her safety.

“Though the State has achieved several milestones in the information technology sector, it had gone back several miles with some caste Hindu parents refusing to send their children to the school just because a Dalit was employed as a cook,” he said.

Addressing at the feast, Ms. Pappal said that her fight against untouchability for the last 12 years had come to an end.

Earlier, Shantha Devi, Assistant Director, Department of Adi Dravidar Welfare, gave away a cheque for ₹25,000 to Ms. Pappal.

The amount represents the initial compensation that is supposed to be disbursed since a case under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has been booked.

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