The European Council has selected Arokiasamy Vincent Raj of Madurai, who is widely known as "Evidence" Kathir, for the Raoul Wallenberg Prize for his activities defending the rights of Dalit and tribals in Tamil Nadu, The News Minute reported. Kathir is the founding chief of Evidence, a Madurai based organisation that carries out his rights activities.
Evidence appears for legal help for families facing caste violence, gather in-depth documents regarding crimes on scheduled castes or tribes and stands by those affected through judicial procedures. There were cases in which 'Evidence' challenged acquittals too, which is reportedly frequent there.
Evidence's five-year report on caste murders in Tamil Nadu published in 2021 states that 300 murders were in the category that occurred in the state from 2016 to 2020. Out of the tally, only 13 accused were convicted, 28 cases are still under investigation pending before police and 229 are still in courts.
Kathir responded that this is the first time a South Asian is winning the award, and the honour is a recognition of his 25-year long work. He was attacked many times, and there were multiple attempts to kill him, he said. He dedicated the award to the Dalit community, the poor and the marginalised worldwide. The European Union's recognition of a Dalit's organisation from India's Tamil Nadu, when there must have been many countries under consideration, gives pride, he said. He hopes this award will place the Dalits' issue under international notice, and thus he views the honour as a tool.
The award will be given in an online ceremony scheduled on January 19. Kathir will go to France later to receive it along with the honorarium of 10,000 Euros.
The Raoul Wallenberg award was founded in 2012. It was named after the Swedish diplomat who saved many Jewish lives during the Holocaust. He was arrested in Budapest in 1945 and believed to be executed in 1947. The award was established by the joint work of the Hungarian Parliament and the Swedish government.