Tamil Nadu forest minister Dindigul C Seenivasan created a storm on Thursday (February 6) when he asked a teen from a tribal community to remove his footwear, near Mudumalai.
In a video that went viral, the AIADMK leader was seen calling a tribal boy to remove his slippers before entering a temple in Mudumalai.
The minister’s assistants asked the minor boy, who was hesitant initially, to pick up the slipper and leave them at the entrance of the shrine.
When the photographers attempted to take pictures of the children removing the slippers of the minister, he asked the photographers to stop clicking it. Even as the minor children were removing the slippers, Coonoor MLA Shanthi A Ramu tried to block the photographers and hid the minister.
— ANI (@ANI) February 6, 2020
According to the sources, the two boys were children of the mahouts in the elephant camp.
Earlier, the minister inaugurated a rejuvenation camp for captive elephants, in Madumalai Tiger Reserve.
During the incident, a group of forest officials, Nilgiris Collector J Innocent Divya and other local leaders accompanied him, but none condemned the action of the minister.
Soon after the incident came to the limelight, it irked the netizens, demanding ministers’ explanation.
Defending his action Srinivasan explained that he thought the children as his grandchildren and it was not intentional to disrespect the children.
— Dindigul C Srinivasan (@Srinivasanoffl) February 6, 2020
But, in another video that was circulated on social media, upset over the manner he was treated, the teen claimed he belonged to Kurumba community.
Condemning the action, Member of the Lok Sabha S Senthilkumar from Dharmapuri, tweeted, “The minister must wear the footwear to the same tribal student. It is the right thing.”
Activists further point out that the Minister and the authorities who silently watched on, can be booked under the Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act, claimed reports.