In a survey conducted by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF), it was shockingly found that many Dalit panchayat presidents in the state were not even allowed a chair in their offices. The survey found that in 22 out of the 386 panchayats surveyed, Dalit presidents were not provided chairs.
The survey which was conducted in 24 districts of the state found that many Dalit panchayat presidents were not even allowed to hoist the national flag. In some cases, the panchayat presidents were not even allowed access to the local body office and in some cases, they were not given assess to documents.
While speaking to media persons after releasing the report on Thursday, TNUEF’s K. Samuel Raj who spearheaded the survey said, “The outcome of the survey is shocking and sad. Panchayat presidents are not even allowed to sit in chairs and they are not allowed to hoist the national flag when the country is all set to celebrate its 75th Independence. Such a problem prevails in 20 panchayats.”
He said that it was sad to see that caste discrimination is prevalent in Tamil Nadu, a state that vouches on the ideology of Periyar who fought against caste discrimination. Samuel Raj said, “We appeal to the government to create an exclusive mechanism to redress the grievances of the Dalit panchayath presidents.”
The TNUEF leader said that they would submit the report to the government and urge them to depute special officers to felicitate the panchayat presidents unfurl the national flag on August 15.
He also demanded the government prosecute the Chinna Salem tahsildar under the provisions of the SC/ST Atrocities Act for holding an illegal peace talk and forcing the Dalit woman panchayat president of Eduthavainatham in Kallakurichi district, V. Sudha to agree to the headmaster of the local school unfurl the national flag on Independence Day instead of her.
Samuel Raj said that a couple of days ago, Sudha had petitioned the Kallakurichi Superintendent of Police and requested police protection to support her in hoisting the national flag on Independence Day.
He also said that the Tamil Nadu Adi Dravidar and ST Commission were inactive and expressed shock and disappointment over this.