Boy Withdraws Complaint Against Min Who Made Him Remove Slippers
A day after a 14-year-old tribal boy filed a complaint against AIADMK minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan for making him remove his slippers, his family has withdrawn the complaint.
Kethan, a student of Class 9, approached the Nilgiris police on Thursday, 6 February, seeking to file a complaint stating, “Because a minister was telling me this in the midst of police, higher officials, public and press, I was afraid, and so I bent down to remove his slippers.”
The complainant demanded action against Sreenivasan under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
However, Sreenivasan is said to have met with the boy and his mother on Friday morning and “worked out things”.
“The minister has promised to give me pension and a job to my daughter. We are withdrawing the complaint,” Kethan’s mother has confirmed.
The incident took place at the inauguration of a rejuvenation camp for captive elephants, in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve.
In the video from 6 February, the minister is seen calling two tribal boys from the Adivasi community. “Hey, come here, come here. Remove my slippers,” Sreenivasan ordered the boys who were standing nearby. After they took his shoes off, the minister can been smiling and casually walking away.
The minister addressed media persons on Friday evening and clarified, “I spoke to the boy, his family and people of his community, and told them that I had called him thinking of him as my grandson. I didn't have any other intentions.”
Sreenivasan added that he has received a list of demands from the family for the improvement of their community, which he has forwarded to the collector.
The police had not registered an FIR. Kethan had mentioned in his complaint that his father isn’t keeping well and his mother is a daily wage labourer who has been supporting the family.
“I felt very bad that such high officials made me do something like this. After media channels started flashing the video, I felt very embarrassed. I went back home crying. Then my family and fellow members in the adivasi community urged me to go register a complaint,” read the letter.
Eyewitnesses claim that the two boys were asked by another member from the minister's entourage to pick up the slippers and leave them at the entrance of the shrine.
“They too have dignity right? In today’s world where we speak of equality, this act by the minister is like going reverse gear on it. That was a child at the end of the day. If you cant show respect, at least don’t demean. He has enough personnel to help out. A minister or any entitled person cannot think they can exploit a low income person,” Antony Rubin, a wildlife activist told The Quint.
Activists said the minister and the authorities who silently watched on, can be booked under the Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act.