In Tamil Nadu, Dalit women local body presidents are not allowed to hoist tricolor national flag on Independence and sit in office chairs. This is happening in the DMK’s Dravidia model government which touts it follows the footsteps of EV Ramawamy who was against the caste inequalities and fought for social justice. During poll campaign, Dalit candidate was not allowed to share dais with upper caste DMK leaders.
The country attained freedom 75 years ago, but in some parts of the country like Tamil Nadu the fruits of freedom are yet to reach the downtrodden and oppressed classes.
Sudha Varadharaju, a dalit panchayat president from Kallakuruchi District, Eduthavaai Natham village, has written a letter to DSP seeking police protection to hoist national flag on 15th August. Sudha said she was not allowed to unfurl the flag on Republic day this year at a government school.
This is not an isolated one. During erstwhile AIADMK and the current DMK regime such things are quite common.
Shockingly a report by Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) revealed there’s bias against Dalit village Panchayat presidents in the state. It urged the TN government to take steps to ensure their independent functioning. K Samuel Raji, general secretary and president of the front chellakkannu said it was a questionnaire based survey in 24 districts covering 386 village panchayats. 400 trained volunteers were engaged for that purpose. The survey report says in 20 village panchayats, Dalit presidents were not allowed to hoist national flag. In 22 panchayats , they were not allowed to sit on chairs, while in 42 panchayats they were not allowed to have a name board. The report also says that many find space in corner of the floor of the village panchayat office when their oppressors stretch out on cosy chairs, sofas. Their views and opinions are not taken into consideration while passing resolutions. Merely their signatures obtained once the resolutions are already finalised by other members. The report reads that if it so happens that dalit panchayat president chairs the meeting, non-dalits boycott it.
“it is sad to see that caste discrimination continuous till date in Tamil Nadu, which boasts of following the ideals of social reformer Periyar (EV Ramaswamt)” points out Samuel Raj.
The TNUEF report pointed out that in 17 panchayats women Dalit presidents are facing gender discrimination. It also talks about attacks/threats faced, disrespect, bias exhibited by union councilors and government officials. Moreover, It also states that the presidents were not allowed to function independently. The Dalit front plans to submit the report to the TN government with an appeal to take immediate remedial measures to ensure that all Dalit Panchayat presidents hoist the national tri -colour flag on 15th August.
It is a sad that despite the central government’s efforts to empower women of all castes under the ideals of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas” the TN government is still embroiled in caste politics and gender discrimination right to the grassroot level.
This is all happening at a time when Chief Minister M K Stalin announced in February this year his government plans to launch an ‘All India Federation for Social Justice’, with representation of “leaders of depressed classes from all the states”. Apart from seeking social justice, Stalin said, the goal of the federation would be achieving federalism. Can his words be trusted?