Even India marked its 75th Independence Day on Sunday, presidents of six village panchayats in Thoothukudi district in Tamil Nadu were not allowed to hoist the national flag on August 15 because the presidents belonged to the Dalit communities.
Ambedkar Periyar Marxists Unarvalargal Kootamaippu, a collective of Dalit and Adivadi activits alleged that the panchayats in question are Villiseri panchayat in Kovilpatti taluk, Ayan Vadamalapuram and Ramanoothu panchayat in Ettayapuram, Ariyanayagipuram, Muthaiapuram and K Duraisamypuram near Nagalapuram panchayat in Vilathikulam taluk.
The anti-caste collective petitioned District Collector Dr K Senthil Raj in this regard on Monday, reported New Indian Express.
The Collector has assured them that he would hold an inquiry into the matter and an appropriate action taken.
“The panchayat secretaries, who are supposed to organise the Independence Day celebrations, had remained largely lethargic from alerting the presidents, because the latter belonged to Scheduled Castes. The secretaries might have worked frantically, if the presidents were from the dominant castes,” Advocate Beemaraj of the association told TNIE.
In K Duraisamypuram village, sources told Express that a retired military personnel, belonging to a caste Hindu community, had hoisted the flag in presence of the Dalit panchayat president.
Another panchayat president from Dalit community, wishing anonymity, said that she refused to attend the event as she was dishonoured the previous year.
“The panchayat vice-presidents, who happen to be caste Hindus, control the administration and use the SC president as merely a stamp. It is a national shame as recognition for these presidents is still a question even as the country celebrates 75 years of Independence,” Ki Veeraperumal of Tamil Puligal Katchi said.