Tamil Nadu ranks the highest among the southern states as far as instances of discrimination against the Scheduled Caste is concerned, according to the National Scheduled Caste Commission. Across India, the state has received the fifth highest number of applications in the last five years.
A member of the Commission told TNM that the maximum number of crimes reported include sexual assault, murder, land grabbing and discrimination in educational institutes.
"Earlier they would get beaten up and stay quiet about it. But now because they are coming forward with complaints, we are able to provide help and compensation to them. This is a sign of empowerment," he says.
According to a member of the Commission, who spoke to TNM on the condition of anonymity, the body receives close to 240 applications from across the state in just one day. Of these at least half are immediately addressed, matter resolved and application disposed, he says. The other applications are then scanned and the necessary district authority is informed about the matter. The Commission claims to have a 30-day window to resolve the issues. If there is no action taken within a month, a reminder is sent to the district authority.
L Murugan, Vice Chairman of the National Scheduled Caste Commission expressed worry about the number of applications received but said there is a silver lining to it. "This shows that people from Schedules Castes have become more aware of their rights and are willing to fight for it," he said at a news briefing in Coimbatore. "In a meeting with authorities of three districts last month, we have found that at least 95% of the cases that have come to us are resolved," he added.