Chennai: A student from Nilgiris district who received unsolicited attention after a clip showed him kneeling to unbuckle the shoes of a Tamil Nadu minister has filed a complaint against the latter.
State Forest Minister Dindigul C Sreenivasan faced flak after a television channel aired footage of him making a tribal boy, identified as CB Kethan, unbuckle his shoe so that he could enter a temple.
Kethan has filed a case against Sreenivasan under the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
In a letter to the police, Kethan described what appears to have been an ordeal. "After I came to know that the videos were flashed in the media, I was very embarrassed, and I broke down," he said.
Sreenivasan had visited the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve in the Nilgris district to inaugurate the Elephants' Rehabilitation Centre when the incident took place in the presence of the District Collector, Forest Secretary and other officials.
The video showed Kethan timidly bending down to remove the minister's slippers as department officials and bureaucrats look on.
In the video, Sreenivasan can be heard calling the boy and asking him to undo his shoe buckle. "Come here... come here...buckle...remove this buckle..." he is heard saying.
Videos of the incident went viral on social media, with many expressing outrage against the minister's actions and others accusing him of discriminating against and mistreating the tribal boy. Others pointed out the "arrogance" of the minister who could not even take off his own shoe. Many called for Sreenivasan to be sacked.
The outrage was primarily against the callousness and the apparent overtones of casteist discrimination. Kethan also referred to it in his complaint, saying, "The minisfer knows well that the people present there belong to the Adivasi community."
After facing backlash, the AIADMK minister said, "It was not my intention to make the boy remove his slippers. But I considered the boy as my grandson and, hence, called him."