A dalit woman sarpanch has been deprived of the honour of hoisting the national flag on the Republic Day and the Independence Day at her village in Morena district in the past four years. Reason: A former sanpanch who belongs to upper caste has not allowed the woman to do so. Instead, he hoists the flag on these two occasions.
Badami Devi, sarpanch of Puravas Kalan recently staged a dharna in Bhopal fighting against upper caste lobby domination in the village, said, "The upper caste lobby led by the former sarpanch has deprived me of my right to hoist the national flag. It is they who have also got opening of a middle school in our harijan basti stalled. And unfortunately the administration is supporting them."
However, a resident of the village Mohan Singh who is also from upper caste has lent support to the lady.
He said, "We are disappointed that some people belonging to our community still believe in untouchability. For the last four years, the sarpanch was deprived of her right to hoist the national flag on the Independence Day and the Republic Day and even if she attends the programme, she is not offered a chair to sit on."
The husband of the woman sarpanch Chiman Jatav said they had lodged a complaint before commissioner of Chambal division Shivanand Dubey about the upper caste lobby not allowing his wife to hoist the national flag.
Talking to HT the divisional commissioner said, "The sarpanch has lodged a complaint about flag hoisting but it is not true that she was restrained from hoisting the flag. In fact, there is no gram panchayat bhavan in the village. The primary school is the only government building in the village. The school employees invite the former sarpanch instead of the present one for hoisting flag. However, I will look into the complaint personally and if there is any discrimination or any wrong practice I will take action against the people responsible for it."
However, Jila Panchayat chairman in-charge Mohan Lal Yadav said, "As the head of the gram Sabha, it is the right of sarpanch to hoist the national flag on August 15 and January 26. Hoisting flag has nothing to do with an invitation as in most gram panchayats the Independence Day and Republic Day programmes are held in schools only."