An incident of caste prejudice from Tamil Nadu is sparking outrage on social media.
A panchayat secretary in the state’s Cuddalore district was suspended after a photo that went viral showed a woman panchayat president, who belongs to a lower caste, sitting on the floor during a meeting, while the rest are seen seated on chairs.
Rajeshwari Saravana Kumar, president of Therku Thittai Panchayat, belonging to the Adi Dravida community, a Scheduled Caste, was elected to her post last year.
Alleging caste discrimination and harassment from upper caste members, Kumar told NDTV:
“Because of my caste, the Vice President does not let me preside over meeting. He did not even let me hoist the flag. He made his father do it. Although I was cooperating with the upper castes all these months, it is going overboard now.”
The police have also booked a case against panchayat vice-president Mohan Raj, under Section 3 (1) (r) of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Chandra Sekhar Sakhamuri, the District Collector, said that the matter was brought to the notice of the administration on 9 October and that a probe is being conducted.
The Hindu quoted Kumar as saying, “The panchayat meetings are convened only by the vice-president, who has been taking the stand that I am a woman and know nothing and should remain quiet. The situation has now reached a level where continued silence would only strengthen their attitude and hence I have decided to speak out,” she said.