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TN: Dalit Student Attacked for Studying Well, Anti-Caste Groups Ring Alarm

A group of high school students broke into the Dalit student’s home and hacked him with a sickle.
dalit cast

The TNUEF-led protest in Chennai condemning the Nanguneri violence.

The murderous attack on a Dalit student and his sister in Nanguneri, Tirunelveli district, has caused tremors in Tamil Nadu. Anti-caste organisations and political parties in the state held protests on August 16 condemning the incident.

The anti-caste groups felt it is shameful that the class XII student Chinnadurai was attacked by fellow students for being good at his studies despite hailing from a poor background. They pointed out that the caste animosity embedded in rural Tamil Nadu has come to light through the incident.

A demonstration was held on Monday in front of the Coimbatore District Commissioner’s office on behalf of the Communist Party of India, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam, Adithamizhar Peravai, May 17 Movement, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, and others.

The organisations emphasised the demand to ban blatant caste identification marks, such as wearing specific wristbands in schools.


Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) called for state-wide protests on August 16 due to this incident. The Front’s statement said, “This incident is a strong message to the government and police administration as well as the civil society. Because the incident cannot be seen as an interpersonal problem between the attackers and the victims.”

“At the same time, it is not sufficient to worry only when violent incidents come to the fore. Caste is overpowering education and scientific thinking. Educational institutions are becoming an extension of caste society,” it read.

Notably, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin condemned the incident and, on August 12,  spoke to the mother of the injured children. He said, “The prevalence of caste and communal sentiments among the youth is not good for the welfare of Tamil Nadu. It is a crucial problem that needs to be rectified immediately. 

The Tamil Nadu government has ordered a one-man committee headed by retired justice Chandru. “This committee will receive opinions from various parties like academicians, students, parents, social thinkers and journalists regarding the above subject and will soon submit a report to the government based on that,” said Stali

Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Speaker M Appavu, Finance Minister Thangam Thennarasu, Health Minister Ma Subramanian, and Adi Dravidar Welfare Minister N Kayalvizhi Selvaraj visited the children in the hospital. 

School Education Minister Anbil Mahesh Poiyamozhi announced he would bear the cost of Chinnadurai’s higher education.

“The government, political parties, and educational institutions should be concerned and ask how we will address students wielding sickles at an age when they should be arming themselves intellectually. If we consider such casteist atrocities routine, Tamil society will have to pay a heavy price,” the TNUEF statement added.

Condemning the brutal incident in Nanguneri, a state-level call was given by the Students’ Federation of India (SFI) to form a human chain and pledge to fight against caste and communal discrimination. More than 200 students participated and took the pledge for equality.


Regarding the incident, CPI(M) Tirunelveli district secretary Shriram said, “There was no part of the body (of the victims) that has not been cut, from the head to the feet. Both hands and feet have been cut and torn with sickles.” 

“The teacher had praised Chinnadurai and asked other students to be like him. Students belonging to dominant communities took offence. They had tortured him for many days asking him to carry their backpacks, to buy pan parag, to buy pen & paper, bullying and physically assaulting him,” he said.

“To prevent further assault, Chinnathurai had told his mother he would withdraw from school. His mother and grandfather raised a complaint about the mistreatment at the school. The complaint triggered the caste pride of the dominant caste students,” Shriram added.

Chinnadurai’s parents are separated, his mother is a mid-day meal worker, and the children live in their maternal grandfather’s house.

Late in the evening on August 9, some students broke into Chinnadurai’s house and hacked him with a sickle. His younger sister, Chandra Selvi, a class X student, also got a cut on her hand when she went to stop it. The injured siblings were admitted to Tirunelveli government hospital.

Four 17-year-old Class XII students and three juveniles have been arrested in the case.

One of the neighbours, Krishnan, who came to rescue the screaming siblings, died of a heart attack after witnessing the brutal incident

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