Monday, January 30, 2012

[ZESTCaste] Dalit panchayat chief alleges discrimination

ERODE, January 31, 2012
Dalit panchayat chief alleges discrimination
S. Ramesh

"Caste Hindus adopt obstructionist tactics"

A Dalit woman village panchayat president in Erode district has lodged
complaints with the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the
district administration, alleging caste-based discrimination by the
vice-president of the panchayat and a district panchayat

Valli Deivanai (42), president of Pasuvapatti village panchayat in
Chennimalai block, claimed that she faced discrimination right from
the day her candidature was announced. After she won the elections,
she was not allowed to occupy the chair allotted for the elected

Lack of cooperation

"Caste Hindus in the village are refusing to co-operate in the
administration of the local body. They are adopting obstructionist
tactics in the implementation of development works and causing hurdles
during the selection of beneficiaries for different welfare
programmes," she alleged in her petition.

Ms. Deivanai claimed that the vice-president of the panchayat P.
Mohanasundaram and District Panchayat vice-chairperson Manimekalai
thwarted her efforts to work effectively.

"At the instigation of caste Hindus, the procedures to apply for old
age pension (OAP) were bypassed and many ineligible persons
recommended for the benefit. As a result, I refused to sign in many
OAP application forms."

The District Panchayat vice-chairperson herself signed and recommended
more than 20 ineligible applicants for OAP, she alleged. She also
claimed that panchayat clerk R. Suguna was transferred as she had
refused to co-operate with Ms. Manimekalai and her supporters.

The panchayat president appealed to the government to ensure legal and
administrative safeguards and guarantees enshrined in the
Constitution. She wanted the district administration to intervene
immediately and provide non-discriminatory and atrocity-free
environment, enabling her to function effectively in the panchayat.

Ms. Manimekalai and Mr. Mohanasundaram denied the allegations. "The
allegations are totally baseless and politically motivated. Since we
both belong to AIADMK, the woman panchayat president, who belongs to
DMK, is trying to tarnish our reputation in the village," Ms.
Manimekalai claimed.

Collector V.K. Shanmugam said that the district administration was yet
to receive a representation from the panchayat president.

"We will, however, conduct an inquiry immediately" he said.


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