Image source: The Quint

Dalit Panchayat leader forced to sit on floor – vice president booked, secretary suspended

Caste Hindus forced Dalit Panchayat president Rajeshwari Kumar to sit on the floor during meetings, saying there weren't enough chairs.
Rajeshwari Saravana Kumar, Dalit panchayat leader, forced to sit on floor by caste Hindus
Rajeshwari Saravana Kumar, Dalit panchayat leader, forced to sit on floor by caste Hindus
Image source: India Today

A photo from a Panchayat meeting in July resurfaced, showing Rajeshwari Saravana Kumar, a Dalit president and leader of Therku Thittai Panchayat, sitting on the floor while others sat on chairs. Police booked the vice-president and suspended the secretary for not informing them of this beforehand.

Caste discrimination happens often, alleges Dalit Panchayat leader

Rajeshwari Saravana Kumar’s panchayat falls under the Mel Bhuvanagiri block, Cuddalore district in Tamil Nadu. The panchayat, Therku Thittai, has six members – two from the Adi-Dravidar community, and four caste Hindus. According to Kumar, she faced caste discrimination ever since she became the President in January. In fact, in the same month, the vice-president stopped her for hosting the Indian flag for Republic Day. Instead, his father hoisted it. A senior official, while acknowledging the caste discrimination existed, dismissed the claim of Rajeshwari being stopped for hoisting the flag.

Not enough chairs so Panchayat leader sat on floor, claim caste Hindus

She further alleged that she was not the one to face such discrimination. As a panchayat leader, she sat on the floor, along with another member, Suganthi. This happened for at least three meetings. Meanwhile, the caste Hindus sat on chairs during meetings. However, they excused such casteist behaviour by saying the number of chairs was not enough.

In fact, the vice-president, Mohan Raj, and the other three caste Hindus, did not even allow Rajeshwari Kumar to sit on the seat in the panchayat office either. They also stopped her from taking her own decision, despite the fact that she was a President. However, she decided to bear the burden as she wanted to resume working for the public of her community.

VP booked, secretary suspended

Chandra Sekhar Sakhamuri, the collector, reported to The Hindu that the administration came to know of the incident on Friday, October 9. He said that he would also visit the Panchayat himself along with police SP M Sree Abhinav for a deeper look into the situation.

Meanwhile, police booked a case against the caste Hindu vice-president, Mohan Raj, under Section 3 (1)(r) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The secretary has been suspended as well.

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