Dalit sarpanch from Solapur district alleges flag kept ‘out of his hands’

Located around 300 kilometres from Pune, Nagansur has a history of caste strife. Local administration and police officials had to intervene when incidents of untouchability were reported by Dalits during this year’s Babasaheb Ambedkar anniversary.

pune Updated: Aug 14, 2018 14:42 IST
Shrinivas Deshpande
Shrinivas Deshpande
Hindustan Times, Pune
pune,dalit sarpanch,solapur district
A dalit sarpanch from Nagansur village in Solapur district alleges he has been asked by other members of the gram panchayat, of an upper caste, not to hoist the national flag on Independence Day on Wednesday. (HT representational photo )

A Dalit sarpanch from Nagansur village in Solapur district alleges he has been asked by other members of the gram panchayat, of an upper caste, not to hoist the national flag on Independence Day on Wednesday.

Prakash Pote, sarpanch of Nagansur village, however, said he would not like to take a confrontational course of action.

Located around 300 kilometres from Pune, Nagansur has a history of caste strife. Local administration and police officials had to intervene when incidents of untouchability were reported by Dalits during this year’s Babasaheb Ambedkar anniversary.

“This has been happening in our village, but I do not want to comment,” said Pote on the phone.

The man cited as leading the “opposition” to Pote hoisting the flag, is deputy sarpanch Gurusidatta Prachande , a Lingayat by caste.

Prachande denied allegations of opposing Pote. "I usually hoist the flag at the Zilla Parishad school only. Pote has hoisted the flag at the gram panchayat," said Prachande.

Another gram panchayat member Mahadevi Nilange, who is a Dalit, said, “We have in the past held meetings to find a way so that the sarpanch can hoist the flag at the gram panchayat. However, it has not borne any results,” he alleged.

When asked about the situation, senior police inspector MA Pawar, stationed at Akkalkot under which the village comes, said the police have in the past held meetings between two communities to avoid tension.

“We have not received any complaint regarding the Independence Day flag hoisting. While we have in the past conducted multiple meetings to solve the issue of discrimination in Nagansur village, no one from the Dalit community is ready to lodge a complaint,” said Pawar.

Nagansur, with a dominant Lingayat population, has a gram panchayat with 17 members. The village, has 150 Dalit families out of a population of 15,000.

Avinash Madikhambe, a local resident and area president of the Republican Party of India (RPI), said,"Sarpanch Prakash Pote was deprived of hoisting the flag last year as well; because of the pressure from the other community, Pote has been keeping quiet on this issue."

First Published: Aug 14, 2018 14:38 IST