(left) A screengrab of the incident shows the kids outside the shop
(left) A screengrab of the incident shows the kids outside the shop

2 held, shop sealed for refusing to sell eatables to Dalit children

He said a 'diktat' was imposed in the locality to keep shops off-limit to 'lower caste' people.

MADURAI: Two men from intermediary caste were arrested and a shop near Sankarankovil in Tenkasi district was sealed on Saturday for refusing to sell eatables to Dalit children.

One of the arrested is the owner of the shop while the latter was selected under Agnipath scheme but could not join because of a pending case filed by Dalit community members, which led to the dominant caste members boycott the latter, sources said.

The incident at Perumpathur village came to public attention after a clip that went viral showed the shopkeeper, S Maheswaran, refusing to sell snacks to a group of uniform-clad Dalit students. He claimed it was decided during a meeting of the community that no products should be sold to residents of a particular street. He is also heard telling the children to convey this to their parents.

Tenkasi Collector P Akash said the relationship between caste Hindus and Dalits in the village was strained and both have lodged cases against each other. Reports said the dispute was over a piece of land.

Sources said K Ramakrishnan, the second man who was arrested, was selected under the Agnipath scheme. However, a case filed by the Dalits against him is pending, proving to be an impediment to his recruitment. His kin and some villagers approached the Dalits to withdraw the case, but they refused.

Angry over this, his community members held a meeting and resolved not to sell any products to the Dalit community.

A video related to the incident has been storming the internet since today morning. Watch here:

After clip went viral on Saturday, incidentally observed as Social Justice Day in connection with Periyar’s birth anniversary, the district administration took note of it. Soon, Karivalamvandanallur police booked Maheswaran and Ramakrishnan under Section 153 (A) of IPC (promoting enmity between different groups), while Sankarankovil tahsildar sealed the shop, the Collector said.

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