The Irular, a Tribal Caste in Tamilnadu, noted for their traditional skill in catching snakes and extensive knowledge of medicinal herbs, have had a very difficult time obtaining basic required identity and property documents from local government officials. Without these documents they are unable to obtain subsidized government commodities like rice and oil, gain admission to colleges, qualify for special reserved seats in colleges or highly desirable Government jobs, permanent employment or subsidized rural employment schemes. Qualifying for basic Government Identity documents is a human right; a person does not fully “exist” without “papers”. South Asian Village Empowerment has a long term commitment to supporting Irular efforts to acquire these identity documents. On Monday, September 28 2015 we accompanied Jagatha, a leader of the Irular Women’s Rights movement, along with over 70 Irular women, men and children, to the capital of Kanchipuram District to submit to the Collector 265 documented demands for Community Certificates, Land Registration deeds, and Ration Cards. Following this they took the Collector’s receipt for these petitions and went to the local block office and resubmitted the demands to the office actually responsible to issue these documents. In the past these submissions have been subject to inordinate delays, claims the documents have been lost or misplaced, repeated demands for extralegal fees, and other technical obstructions. We will be following up on the official’s actions and will support Jagatha and the many families she represents to make sure the demands are addressed in a timely and correct manner. The demands were noted in articles that appeared in at least three Tamil language newspapers. We have attached separately copies of these articles as well as photos of the day.
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