Sunday, January 09, 2005

Amidst tragedy: Caste politics hamper relief

Chennai: In Tamil Nadu's Nagappatinam district, people are accusing the government of bias in relief operations.

The people of Kesavan Palayam, a remote village, 40 kilometers from Nagapattinam are totally dependent on the relief trucks for two square meals a day.

But for the residents of this village, even that is not a certainty.

In the tsunami-affected districts where aid has been pouring in from all sides, the villagers allege that the relief work has been slow perhaps because of their caste.

"First few days we were allowed to stay in the camps. But then we were asked to leave because we are the lower caste," said a local.

Caste sentiments

For these people, who have nothing to turn to, the arrival of relief trucks with political messages only fuels their anger.

In a society where the caste divide is as old as time itself, it is the fuelling of caste sentiments by political activists that takes the focus away from the need of the hour.

"Hindus give relief only to Hindus and Christians to Christians. While collecting donation, Christians refuse to give us money," said Vijay Kumar, Political Activist.

Truth or propaganda?

Dismissing these allegations as propaganda, the district administration says no such complaints have been brought to their notice.

Eleven teams have been made to look after the relief work and priority is being given on the basis of damage that the villages have suffered and not on the basis of caste.

"People have their own agenda. Maybe somebody's agenda is to draw mileage out of all this. As far as the team of officers deputed is concerned, our agenda is very clear. It is to provide relief to all citizens," said Vivek Hari Narayan, Zone Collector, Nagapattinam.

Source: NDTV news, January 09, 2005

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