An Irula tribal woman, Saraswathi Vijayan who is the president of Velukkattai Panchayat in Krishnagiri district, will hoist the national flag for the first time since she assumed office two years ago.
The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) conducted a recent survey in 24 districts of the state and found that several Panchayat presidents of the Dalit community were not allowed to hoist the national flag and many were not even allowed a seat in office.
It may be noted that after the survey report was carried extensively by the media, Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary, V. Irai Anbu ordered all the district collectors to prevent caste discrimination while hoisting the national flag during the Independence day celebrations.
Saraswathi Vijayan, who became president of Velukkattai Panchayat in January 2020, was not allowed to hoist the flag on the Panchayat premises. During Republic Day celebrations in 2020, she had to hoist the flag at Panchayat Union Middle school instead of the Panchayat office.
After this news came to light, Velukkattai Panchayat secretary and BDO went to the spot on Thursday and erected a pole on the premises of the Panchayat for the president to hoist the national flag on the Independence day celebrations.
While the Dravidian political parties of Tamil Nadu have been professing the ideology of Periyar, in practice clear demarcation and discrimination are happening to many Dalit families in Tamil Nadu. It may be recalled that in October 2021, there were a series of murders in South Tamil Nadu with Dalits and upper caste clashing against each other.