In an incident caste-based atrocities, a panchayat president, who is a dalit woman, was prevented from hoisting the national flag on independence day in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruvalluvar district. The Chennai Police finally filed a First Investigation Report (FIR) for online abuses against women journalists, following a protest march by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) [CPI(M)] to the Chennai commissioner’s office. Two men succumbed to death while cleaning a drainage in Kancheepuram district. NewsClick brings a round-up of the happenings this week in the state.
DALIT PANCHAYAT PRESIDENT FACES CASTE DISCRIMINATION
A dalit panchayat president was prevented from hoisting the national flag on the 74th independence day in Tiruvallur district. The dominant Vanniyar community members prevented her from exercising the right. She was finally able to hoist the flag on August 21, in the presence of the district collector and the superintendent of police, after the district administration interfered following protests by the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) and the CPI(M).
V Amrutham, the president of Athupakkam panchayat in Tiruvallur district was prevented from hoisting the national flag on August 15. She had faced a similar issue earlier during the Republic day celebration as well. She has accused the panchayat secretary of not appraising her on the official details.
On August 19, the journalist of the Puthiya Thalaimurai television was attacked by the panchayat secretary and the husband of the vice president for visiting the village for reporting the incident.
Even as 50% reservation for dalits and women exist in the local bodies across the state, their independence and decision making on administrative front still remains elusive. The state has a history of people from the dominant caste in certain panchayats preventing dalits from filing nominations or forcing the elected dalits to resign.
STAGNATION IN FRESH COVID-19 CASES
The COVID-19 cases have exhibited a stagnant pattern for the past couple of weeks in the state, raising questions over the genuineness of the numbers. The increasing number of deaths continue to remain a cause of concern. The state has been reporting between 5,800 and 6,000 fresh cases over the past 15 days.
Even though there is a small drop in the number of cases, the number of casualties has increased. The total positive cases increased to 3,67,430 and the deaths increased to 6,340. The recoveries have breached the 3 lakh mark, leaving the number of active cases at 53,413.
The death rate in Coimbatore has increased and stands second to Madurai, while the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) stands third. Eight districts, apart from the GCC, have reported more than 10,000 cases. Read More
CASE FILED FOR ONLINE ABUSE OF JOURNALIST
The Chennai police filed a FIR against a right wing activist on a complaint by journalist J Kavin Malar for online harassment. Her photograph was edited with a text, projecting her as a sex worker. Her reports to Facebook were turned down, citing that there is no violation of community standards.
A complaint was then registered with the Chennai Police, which delayed filing a case for unknown reasons. Meanwhile, the members of the All India Democratic Women's Association filed a complaint with Coimbatore City Police, where the abuser Sasi Kumar belongs to.
The CPI(M) condemned the delay by the police and took out a protest march to the office of the Chennai commissioner of police. However, the police, which had been delaying taking action on the complaint, were swift enough to detain the protesters. The FIR was filed only after the protest march.
This is not the first time a complaint has been treated with apathy. There has been an increase in repeated incidents involving the right wing activists hurling abuses at women activists in the state.
AUTO RICKSHAW WORKERS HOLD PROTEST
The auto rickshaw workers of the state held protests across the state demanding cash relief and exemption from insurance and tax payments. The auto rickshaws were off the roads during the lockdown and are finding few takers in the present unlock phase. The share autos, a major source of transport in Chennai, are yet to get permission for plying on the roads.
The drivers have lost their livelihood due to the unplanned lockdown and are facing problems owing to increase in petrol and diesel prices. The different trade unions have been demanding cash reliefs for the workers to the tune of Rs 7,500 for every worker. They expressed their discontent over the Rs 2,000 relief given to the workers registered with the welfare board.
A considerable number of women auto rickshaw drivers, who are widows or single parents are finding it an uphill task in surviving the pandemic and the loss of income. They accused the union government of not passing on the benefit of falling crude oil prices to the consumers. See More
TWO DIE OF ASPHYXIATION IN DRAIN
A manual scavenging worker and a youth who tried rescuing the worker died of asphyxiation in Muthialpet of Kancheepuram district. Two workers were hired for cleaning the drainage of dyeing units which discharge water into the municipal drainage system.
While opening the slab, Lakhsmanan inhaled the poisonous exhumes and fell into the drain. In an effort to rescue him, a youth from the neighbourhood Sunil also jumped into the drain following which he too inhaled the fumes and lost his life. The owner of the dyeing unit reportedly fled from the spot.
The state holds the dubious distinction of accounting for one of the highest numbers of manual scavenging deaths in the country. The lack of rehabilitation measures for the workers and lethargy on initiating legal proceedings add to the agony of the socially oppressed community.
GIRL COMMITS SUICIDE OVER FEAR OF NEET
A 19-year-old girl student from Coimbatore committed suicide in fear of appearing in the NEET exam scheduled in September. The girl hanged herself to death at her home on August 18 and was reportedly depressed in the run up to the exam.
The NEET exam for medical admissions are opposed by a majority of the political parties in the state. But the Union government has refused to grant any exemption from the exam, leading to denial of medical admission for the socially and economically backwards students.
The state has witnessed several suicides since the introduction of the NEET in 2017. In the previous year, three students who failed to clear the NEET exam ended their lives.