NHRC orders action against headmistress for illtreating dalit girls

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MADURAI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked Tamil Nadu government to explain why 25,000 each should not be paid as relief to two girls of a panchayat union middle school in Tirunelveli, who were forced to clean the toilets by the headmistress of the school. According to the state organiser of the Arundhadhiar Pengal Ezhuchi Iyakkam (APEI), K Maria Selvi, their organisation held regular Sunday classes called Arundhadhiar Ilan Kanal Sirar Mandram. There the school students were asked to give an account of their week's study and also if they had any problems related to it. 

"It was there that the two students, Petchiamma, 11, and Sermakani, 12, came forward to tell us about the harassment they faced at the hands of the headmistress of Ettankulam Panchayat Middle School,'' she said. The girls were allegedly forced to scrub and wash the toilet used by the headmistress, Sathya Bama, who was allegedly biased against dalit students. They said the toilet had squirming worms and they refused to clean it, earning the ire of the headmistress. 

The APEI staged demonstrations on April 8, 2013 and also sent petitions to the collector, chief educational officer, elementary educational officer and superintendent of police. The CEO conducted enquiries with the students and the teachers and the allegations were confirmed and the headmistress was transferred. Member of the commission, Justice D Murugesan, has recommended that the state government initiate action against the headmistress for her misconduct. Social justice department, which has to take action, should submit a report within six weeks. 

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