12th October 2020
PUDUKKOTTAI: A Dalit woman union chairman from Pudukkottai district has alleged that her name was not listed along with names of other elected representatives on the display of a newly-constructed bus stand because of caste discrimination.
The new bus stand was constructed under the MLA constituency development fund at the Muthuvalarkudi village in the Kunnar village panchayat in the Avudayarkoil union. Although the names of the Aranthangi MLA E Rathinasabapathy, panchayat union councillor Narendra Jyothi and village panchayat president Kalimuthu are displayed, the name of Uma Devi, union chairman of Avudayarkoil was missed. Uma Devi has alleged that her name was left out because she is Dalit.
“My name has been specifically left out as I belong to a Scheduled Caste community. This is new-age untouchability and they are discriminating against me. All those responsible for this should be booked under the SC/ST atrocities Act,” Uma Devi told The New Indian Express.
She said she had raised the issue with the panchayat but was told that it was the Scheme Block Development Officer who had given instructions on the names to be mentioned. So, she has prepared a petition to submit to officials.
“Before filing a petition, I thought I would talk to the leaders and find out why my name was not added. When I asked the panchayat president, he claimed that the Scheme BDO had instructed them to write in such a manner. They are openly discriminating against me. I will forward my petition to all the authorities, including to the SC/ST welfare department,” she said.
Sources said that Uma Devi belongs to the DMK whereas the MLA and union councillor belong to the AIADMK and this might have also been the reason for her name being left out. However, panchayat officials said it was clearly against protocol to mention the union councillor’s name but leave out the name of the union chairman.
When contacted, Kumaran, the Block Development Officer for the Avudayarkoil Panchayat said, “The protocol is that if the project is constructed under the MLA fund, the name of the MLA will be mentioned. As far as other names are concerned, it has to be in line with the protocol. We will investigate the issue and find out why the name of the panchayat officials were added but the name of the union chairman was neglected.”