Monday, July 26, 2004

Dalit postmaster faces discrimination

Monday, July 26, 2004:

A 32 year old Dalit man in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu is being prevented by people from upper castes to join work as a branch post master.

The man Jayaprakash was appointed as a branch postmaster of Velayuthapuram village more than a year ago.

But he has been unable to report for work, since the upper caste people in the village are not willing to rent him a place to run a post office.

'Honour' under fire

"They say only someone from their community should run the post office. They say they will not allow anyone else to do this honourable job," said Jeyaprakash.

Although the post is reserved for Dalits, the postal department has now appointed an upper caste woman on a temporary basis.

And the village panchayat demands that she be made permanent.

With deposits and policies worth Rs 15 lakh made in this post office, the upper caste people have now threatened to withdraw all the money if Jeyaprakash manages to find a place.

"If this boy joins as postmaster I do not think the post office will function normally because everyone will withdraw their deposits," said S Sunder Rajan, the panchayat president.

Caste divide

With no options left to save his job, Jeyaprakash has asked the postal department to shift the post office to a nearby village where people are willing to accommodate him. But the department says there is no provision for a shift.

"If a post office has to be shifted from a village to another village because a candidate belongs to another village or he has a problem in providing accommodation, then it will be very difficult for us to really function," said Postmaster General TP Reddy.

For many Dalits like Jeyaprakash across the country, reservation policy has no meaning � a sad indicator how thousands of Dalits are denied their rightful place in society.

Source: NDTV, July 26, 2004

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