Probe ordered into anti-Dalit atrocities
By Our Staff Reporter

MADURAI, JAN. 19.The Madurai district administration has ordered an enquiry into the alleged practice of untouchability, including the existence of the `two-tumbler system', in a cluster of villages surrounding S. Keezhapatti in Perayur taluk where conversion of Dalits to Islam has been reported.

In a statement issued here today, Mr. V. Thangavelu, District Collector, warned that criminal proceedings would be initiated against those indulging in acts of untouchability.

However, he denied the charge of the Dalit converts that lack of basic amenities was one of the reasons that forced them to embrace Islam. He claimed that more amenities had been provided for the Dalits in the S. Keezhapatti panchayat. Out of 216 works taken up for the provision of basic amenities, 152 were meant for the Dalits, whose population stood at 801, out of a total of 1315, as per the 1991 census. Group houses were being allocated on the basis of the issue of pattas and houses would be constructed on a priority basis for the 48 remaining patta holders. Twelve houses had been provided for the Dalits in 1997- 98 and 1998-99, apart from the 52 houses sanctioned under the THADCO scheme. Repairs would be undertaken as and when the scheme meant for it was implemented. The Collector said efforts were on to sanction loans under the `swarna jayanthi' scheme for the Dalits.

Mr. Thangavelu claimed that 36 works had been taken up in the panchayat between 1996 and 2001, at a cost of Rs. 16.52 lakhs, and adequate funds were apportioned on the basis of population. He said the allegation of the panchayat president that basic amenities had not been provided for the panchayat was not true.

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