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Cuddalore deaths: NGO demands officials be booked under SC/ST Act

An NGO in Madurai has demanded that officials responsible for the deaths of the three conservancy workers in Cuddalore be brought to book.

Cuddalore deaths: NGO demands officials be booked under SC/ST Act
Vanitha, the mother of one of the deceased, Uthiravel


The incident had occurred on March 20 when Uthiravel, Jeyakumar, both from Cuddalore and Murugan, from Puducherry, who were involved in manual scavenging work at Mohini bridge at Cuddalore, died due to asphyxiation. This had sparked widespread outrage throughout the state and the government had acted quickly by disbursing Rs 10 lakh each to the family of the deceased. 

“The officials should be booked under Scheduled Castes/ Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities) Act,” demanded A.Kathir, Executive Director of ‘Evidence’, the NGO working for the upliftment of Dalits and Scheduled Tribes. 

A team from ‘Evidence’ had visited the spot and had carried out detailed investigation there. The team had also interacted with the family of the deceased and had then come out with their recommendations. 

Speaking to DTNext, Kathir claimed that Uthiravel and Jeyakumar belonged to the Schedule Caste(SC) while Murugan belonged to upper caste. The three workers, despite being opposed to the nature of the work concerned, had been allegedly forced to enter the drainage by the officials. 

One of the deceased, Jeyakumar, who had worked as a contract labourer at Cuddalore Municipality, had refused to clean the drainage at Mohini bridge and had informed the project manager on several occasions that the drainage near Mohini bridge was a depot of poisonous gases. 

However, the project manager had forced him to work in the drainage and had caused his death along with two others, claimed Kathir. Though the police had booked the case under Manual Scavenging Act, the officials were not booked under SC/ST Act. 

The recent amendment in the Manual Scavenging Act made in 2015 states that if SC or ST workers employed in manual scavenging die, officials responsible should be booked under the SC/ ST Act, but the same is yet to be effected in this case.

 “It is clear that the cops are hand-in-glove with the officials. Only if the officials are booked under the SC/ST Act, could they be remanded,” claimed Kathir. Kathir also demanded that the government provide a government job for one of the members in the family of the deceased and also provide Rs 10,000 per month as aid for the three families.

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