Sneha Parthibaraja, an advocate and resident of Tirupattur, Tamil Nadu, has become the first Indian to obtain an official “No Caste, No Religion” certificate. It took the 35-year old nine years to obtain the certificate. Tehsildar T S Sathiyamoorthy granted it to her on February 5, 2019.

Talking to SheThePeople.tv, Parthibaraja said people have been fighting the caste system for thousands of years and her nine-year battle is just a short period against the time invested by the people in their struggle. Excerpts from the interview:

From where did you imbibe such thoughts and values?

She said, “I was raised in a family that did not believe in these concepts and my parents have always left the columns of caste and religion blank in application forms. However, I myself wanted to attain this certificate officially.”

Obtaining the no-caste, no religion certificate was a much-needed revolution and people can bring about more such changes after this. She said that she doesn’t feel any disadvantage attached to it.

“Though now, you can’t avail government schemes, reservations and scholarships, but I don’t see this as a great disadvantage. People should come out of this hierarchy and work for the people who feel suppressed.”

Her inspiration?

“If I have to name my inspiration, then that would be Karl Marx, Periyar E. V. Ramasamy and B. R. Ambedkar,” she said.

How was your journey and how do you feel now?

“I feel more responsible and motivated now. This is the starting point and we still have a long way to go. People with the same ideology should help in eradicating casteism from the country,” she said.

According to Parthibaraja, she never identified with caste or religion: “All my certificates have nil or are blank against the ‘caste’ and ‘religion’ columns. This includes my birth certificate and school certificates. They mention me as an Indian.”

Parthibaraja began her fight in 2010 but all her attempts remained futile until last week. Her last application was submitted in May 2017. Officials kept rejecting it “for some reason”.

While sub-collector Priyanka Pankajam didn’t specify the law under which Sneha’s request was considered, she did say that “she wanted to be certified as [belonging to] no caste and no religion. We had to check if her assertions were true. We verified all her school and college documents and found the two columns blank. So, though we found no precedent, we decided to go ahead and certify her as it will not affect anybody or take away another person’s opportunity.”

Celebs like Kamal Hassan congratulated Parthibaraja on Twitter.

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Sonakshi Goel is an intern with SheThePeople.TV

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