Tamil Nadu: Amid threats, Dalit woman panchayat head unfurls tiranga

Tamil Nadu: Amid threats, Dalit woman panchayat head unfurls tiranga

Padmini Sivarajah / TNN / Updated: Aug 15, 2022, 06:56 IST

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CHENNAI: It was a historical occasion for V Amrutham, 60, the woman Dalit president of Athupakkam panchayat in neighbouring Thiruvallur district. On Sunday she hoisted the tricolour to mark the 75th anniversary of the country’s Independence, but a day ahead. That was not the sole significance of the occasion.

Tamil Nadu chief secretary V Irai Anbu was the chief guest, lending support to Amrutham and ensuring she faced no threats nor any impediments. The event, part of a three-day celebration, was only a precursor for the D-Day on Monday.
Fearing resistance and violence from dominant groups, several Dalit panchayat presidents had sought police protection to hoist the flag on August 15. The chief secretary had on Friday directed district collectors to ensure that panchayat presidents, mayors and other local body heads hoisted the national flag, irrespective of their castes.

Tamil Nadu Untouchability eradication front, however, said doing so before the ‘D’ day was not acceptable. Athupakkam has been in the midst of a controversy for more than two years as the elected panchayat president Amurtham, from SC community, has always been prevented from hoisting the flag. The dominant caste groups in these villages consider it “demeaning” to have a Dalit hoist the flag on Independence Day.

On Sunday, Amrutham, flanked by the chief secretary and district collector hoisted the tricolour in the panchayat office building where elaborate arrangements had been made.
In Pudukottai district also, a petition has been given to the DSP seeking protection.

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