Chennai, August 16: Amid the ongoing debate in Tamil Nadu over the usage of caste bands by some schools in northern districts of the state, senior AIADMK leader and Education Minister KA Sengottaiyan issued a statement clarifying that no ban has been imposed on usage of such bands. His clarification came shortly after an Education Department circular asked schools not to allow students to display any identity associated with their castes.
Sengottaiyan, while accepting that a circular in this regard was issued by the Education Department, told reporters that he has issued an order asking schools not to implement the circular. "Whatever practice exists in Tamil Nadu shall continue the way it is," the New Indian Express quoted him as saying. Tamil Nadu: Colourful Bands, Tattoos in Government Schools Keep Caste Cauldron
Among those who had opposed the Education Department's circular was BJP leader H Raja, who called the move "anti-Hindu". Raja argued that students cannot be denied the right to wear the symbols of their faith.
The circular, which has now been scrapped on Sengottaiyan order, was based on a representation made by 180 trainee IAS officers, who had found that a sizeable number of schools in Tamil Nadu discriminated among students based on their caste.
Reports have alleged that the wristbands, with different colours, allows teachers to distinguish among students based on their caste. In certain cases, Dalit students were reportedly barred from eating mid-day meals in the common plates.
Sengottaiyan, however, claimed that he was unaware of any such incident being reported in state schools. Issuing a blanket ban on caste bands, he said, would instead backfire and spark an "unnecessary controversy".