The 14-year-old boy was forced to unbuckle the footwear of state Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan.

Tribal boy forced to unbuckle TN Ministers shoe writes to cops seeks action
news Controversy Friday, February 07, 2020 - 10:16

The 14-year-old Irula boy from Tamil Nadu, who was forced on Thursday to unbuckle the footwear of state Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan, has sought action against the Minister under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. 

The boy, who was present at Sreenivasan’s visit to a shrine in Nilgiris district, was asked to ‘come running’ by the Minister. In an act that has received widespread condemnation for its casteism and outright disrespect, the Minister tells the boy, “Remove this...Buckle buckle.” The Minister, who couldn’t bend down to remove his own footwear before entering the shrine, was slammed by anti-caste activists as well as political leaders.

In a letter to the Masinagudi police inspector, the boy wrote that he was upset and humiliated by the events of Thursday which have been broadcast across media in the state. 

He wrote, “Because the person instructing me was a Minister and there were policemen among the senior officials present, out of fear I removed the footwear of the Minister in front of the general public and media. Many higher officials including Nilgiris district collector and senior policemen were present. They were watching on as I removed the Minister's footwear. The Minister and government officials knew very well that all those who had gathered there were members of the tribal community. I felt extremely upset and scared thinking about how I was called upon and asked to do such a thing. I was subject to great humiliation as the act was broadcast on all media and television channels.”

He also wrote that he was upset and crying at home later in the day at the thought of being made fun of by his peers on account of the incident. 

The boy from the Irula community has sought action against the Minister under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in addition to protection for himself. 

Meanwhile, the Minister has denied anything wrong with his actions. Speaking to television channels, he said, “We were walking to the (Mudumalai) elephant camp. Suddenly - after I was told that we can pray at the Vinayagar temple and then go - I was wearing shoes. Everyone around me was elderly to remove my shoe for me. Therefore, there was a small boy playing in front of me. I said, thambi come here, come and remove my shoe.”

Without offering an apology, the Minister added, “I called him thinking of him as my grandson. I had no other motive. If someone is hurt, I express regrets.”

DMK chief MK Stalin has condemned the Minister, stating that it was a violation of his oath of office.

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