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Patkar campaigns for tsunami-affected dalits
January 14, 2005 16:42 IST
Social activist Medha Patkar has a new mission: to bring relief to the dalits affected by the December 26, 2004 tsunamis.
"Even though majority of those affected by the tsunami are fishermen, the administration also has to address the needs of hundreds of dalits who are indirectly connected to the fishing industry and whose lives have been adversely affected by the tragedy in an indirect manner," she said.
"Many dalits who make fish baskets for a living, or transport fish from one place to another or do manual work in ports and boats, have also been deprived of their livelihood, which the government has not taken into consideration," Patkar, a prominent activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the National Alliance for People's Movement, said.
Accusing the government of concentrating only on the fishing community, Patkar, who toured the tsunami-affected villages in Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu, alleged that ex-gratia payment to relatives of those dalits killed had not been paid.
"During enumeration of damage, the officials have shown complete apathy towards the dalits. In some areas, they were forcibly expelled from the camps in and around temples," she said.
"The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should monitor such discrimination and point out the special requirements of dalits in these affected areas so that their livelihood needs are addressed," she said.
Meanwhile, the administration denied any caste-based discrimination in its relief and rehabilitation efforts.