Thursday, April 15, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Dalit colony ‘removed' from panchayat jurisdiction

Tamil Nadu

Dalit colony 'removed' from panchayat jurisdiction

S. Sundar

VIRUDHUNAGAR: Fourteen group houses constructed for Dalit families
nine years back have been 'removed' from a panchayat jurisdiction.

At a public hearing on violence against Dalits organised at
Aruppukottai on Wednesday, one of the beneficiaries narrated how the
families of Ambedkar Colony were denied development works.

The Suklampatti panchayat had passed resolution in December 2007 that
the 14 houses were outside the panchayat jurisdiction and hence no tax
could be collected from them. "Since we were not paying the tax, we
are denied drinking water, road facility and other government
benefits," said Jeyaraman.

Deposing before a panel of jurists, comprising Perambur MLA K.
Mahendran, State convenor of Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Act
P. Sampath, High Court lawyer U. Nirmalarani, executive director of an
NGO, Evidence, A. Kathir, and former Chief Judicial Magistrate S.
Muthuraj, he said the Suklampatti panchayat had collected property tax
till 2006-07.

Replying to a petition under the Right to Information Act, the
Aruppukottai Revenue Divisional Officer, had confirmed in March 2008
that the colony came under the Suklampatti panchayat.

Mr. Jeyaraman alleged that the panchayat president, a caste Hindu, had
deliberately 'removed' the Dalits from the village to check the number
of Dalit votes in the local body.

Mr. Kathir said this kind of practice of untouchability was so novel
that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had no provision to deal
with it. "It is an attempt to destroy the identity [of a section of
the society]."

Mr. Mahendran said the panchayat president should be removed by the
Collector for his "discriminatory" action.

Ms. Nirmalarani said though the panel of jurists came to give their
opinion on the cases, it turned out to be a "learning" session.

Mr. Sampath said that if no proper action was taken in the case, the
Dalits would occupy the office of the Special Tahsildar, who had
allotted them the houses.

In another case, it was alleged that Aruppukottai municipal officials
had discriminated Dalit sanitary workers from caste Hindu sanitary
workers, who were given works which were not in keeping with the
nature of the job. They worked in the office as messengers. Besides,
they were given "out of turn" promotion as maistry, overlooking the
seniority of Dalit workers. Two of them who objected to it were
transferred out of Aruppukottai. Before they could come back to
Aruppukottai municipality, the promotion orders were issued. The
member of the jury flayed the "peace meetings" conducted by the
officials, which rendered no justice to the Dalits in cases of
violence against them. "It is only a katta panchayat," Mr. Kathir
said. The role of judiciary in dealing with cases of violence against
Dalits was also not satisfactory, he said.


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