Footwear incident: TN Minister seeks apology

Tamil Nadu Forest Minister apologizes to the boy, mother for footwear incident

Tamil Nadu Forest Minister Dindigul C Srinivasan, who sparked off an outrage by asking a tribal boy to remove his chappals near Theppakkadu elephant camp here, expressed regret personally to the boy and his mother on Friday. The Minister said he had called the boy who was like his grandson to remove his footwear, and there was no other intention whatsoever. However, the boy's mother and some social organisations, sought an apology from the minister and filed a police complaint seeking action against him under the SC/ST Act. Sensing the public wrath, Srinivasan called the mother and relatives of the boy, and community members to the state guesthouse 'Tamizhakam' on Friday to convince them and sort out the issue. After nearly a one-hour meeting, Srinivasan told reporters that he has personally apologised to the boy Ketan and his mother Kaliyammal and also assured to take up developmental works in their village.

Kaliyammal told reporters that the complaint against the minister would be withdrawn following the apology from the minister.

The minister also assured to construct a community hall in the village, she said.

Meanwhile, members of some organisations, including Social Justice Party, gheraoed the minister by squatting in front of his car and condemned an NGO, who arranged the meeting in favour of the minister.

However, they dispersed after lodging their protest. On Friday, the Minister triggered the controversy when came to inaugurate the elephant rejuvenation camp in Theppakkadu, in Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, 40 kms from here. When he along with the district collector and other officials were proceeding to the camp, Srinivasan called the boy and asked him to remove his footwear so as to enter a temple there and perform pooja. The boy readily obliged and removed the slippers in full public view. This led to an outrage and the clipping of the episode went viral.

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