The last week witnessed a continuation of discrimination against dalits in Tamil Nadu, with a dalit woman panchayat president forced to sit on the floor in the panchayat meeting, while other members were provided a seat. In Dharmapuri district, 29 dalit families were ostracised for refusing to withdraw the case filed against the dominant caste following an attack after a intercaste marriage two years ago. Meanwhile, the COVID-19 infections have been rising in the state.
The past week also saw protests by farmers and agricultural workers across the state, demanding insurance money, increase in the number of days' work and wages.
NewsClick brings a round up of the happenings across the state this week.
COVID-19: STATE RECORDS 10,000 CASUALTIES
The state is continuing to record cases over 5,000 per day continuously, with the number of cases recording an increase in Chennai. The total casualties in the state increased to 10,120 on October 9, with 6,46,128 total COVID-19 positive cases. The discharges, too, increased leaving the number of active cases at 44,197 including those under isolation.
Though the number of fresh positive cases have dropped over the past few days, the number of cases in the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) registered a considerable increase. After a string of below 1,000 daily fresh cases, the city recorded more than 1,000 cases in the recent few days. The city also has accounted for a total of 3,373 casualties. The city has 13,446 active cases, with a total positive cases of 1,79,424.
While the infections in most parts of the city have reduced, the Ambattur zone has hogged the limelight with more cases. An industrial area, the zone accounts for almost 50% of the active cases now. The procedure of sealing the houses of the infected persons with tin sheets has been questioned by the Madras High Court, which according to reports are withdrawn now.
Meanwhile, the Sero survey has begun in the Chennai city to study in detail on the exposure of the population to COVID-19 viral infection.
CASTE ATROCITY AGAINST DALIT PANCHAYAT PRESIDENT
The dalit woman panchayat president of Therkkuthittai panchayat of Cuddalaore district was discriminated by the dominant caste vice president of the panchayat. The incident came to light after the photograph of the president S Rajeswari sitting on the floor during the panchayat meeting went viral in the social media. The other members of the panchayat were seated in chairs during the meet. The incident reportedly took place in the month of August. She also alleged that the vice president did not permit her to hoist the national flag on independence day.
The vice president, who is on the run now, has been booked under Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act. The panchayat secretary has been suspended. Such incidents of dalit panchayat presidents facing discrimination has raised several concerns. In another similar incident, the president of Athupakkam panchayat, Amirtham was forced to face a similar fate. See More.
WILL AIADMK WILL A THIRD TERM IN 2021?
The internal squabbles in the ruling AIADMK came to a temporary halt on October 7 with the announcement of the Chief Ministerial candidate . The sitting CM EPS will lead the party in the 2021 Assembly elections. The deputy CM OPS will continue as the coordinator of the party.
An 11 member steering committee has also been constituted, but the relevance of the committee is under the scanner, since the general body is the highest decision making body of the party. The composition of the steering committee, though has balanced the regional equations, has upset many heavyweights who were left out of the committee.
The part managed to save its face by announcing the CM candidate as per the decision made in the state secretariat meeting held on September 28. But, the problems are far from over, as distribution of tickets in the election could prop up further troubles, since the factional feud is set to continue. The aide of late CM J Jayalalitha, V K Sasikala is expected to be released from jail in January 2021. Though she and her nephew TTV Dhinakaran are not part of AIADMK, another round of confusion cannot be ruled out. Read More.
HINDI IMPOSITION STIRS ANOTHER STORM
The issue of Hindi imposition, which turned the very character of the state politics, is making a comeback. The proposal of three language formula in the National Education Policy and absence of representation in the cultural committee to study ancient Indian culture has stirred up a huge controversy.
In a recent incident, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) Member of Parliament, S Venkatesan questioned the omission of Tamil in the advertisement of the Archeological Survey of India run Pt. Upadhyaya School of Architecture. In the eligibility conditions, candidates with education in Tamil among other classical languages were not included. After a strong backlash, candidates with qualification in the Tami, Kannada, Odia and others were announced as eligible for enrolling in the course.
The committee constituted to study ancient Indian culture has also attracted severe criticism due to the absence of South Indians, North East Indians and Muslims. The political parties have questioned the inclusion of caste group leaders in the committee and the omission of known researchers. Read More
FARMERS PROTEST ON DEMANDS
The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) led different protests in the state on demands of sugarcane farmers and non-payment of insurance for paddy farmers. The sugarcane farmers took out a massive rally in Tiruvallur to save and develop the Thiruthani Cooperative Sugar mills. The state government has been neglecting the cooperative mill in favour of the private mills, which are continuously delaying the payment for the procured sugarcane, the union members alleged. A black flag protest was also held by the sugarcane farmers in Thiruvannamalai district on the inordinate delay in the payment to the sugarcane procured.
The members of AIKS marched to the Ramanathapuram district collector’s office demanding payment of crop insurance. More than 500 farmers took part in the march seeking insurance for the years 2015-19. The farmers tried to lay siege to the office followed by which talks were held. They were assured of immediate action by the administration, resulting in the withdrawal of protest.
AIAWU DEMAND JOBS IN URBAN AREAS
The All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU) held massive protests across the state demanding the extension of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MNREGA) to urban areas. The AIAWU submitted memoranda en masse to the executive officers of the town panchayat demanding jobs during the week.
The union has been demanding the increase of the number of days along with revision of wages. “The income of the agricultural workers have been choked since the unplanned lockdown and hence its highly necessary to expand the program to urban areas as well,” the union said in a statement.
The number of working days should be increased to 250 days per year and wages should be increased to Rs 600 per day, the organisation has been demanding. With the economy shrinking, the Union government has been continuously reducing the allocation for MGNREGA in the budgets.
DALIT FAMILIES OSTRACISED
In a shocking incident, 29 dalit families near Hosur in Dharmapuri district were ostracised, two years after a dalit youth married a girl of the most backward class community.. The move was taken as a means to punish the dalit families who filed a case UNDER Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act against the attack on their residences immediately after the two eloped. The attackers were neither the relatives of the girl nor from the girl’s village.
The residents of the groom’s neighbourhood attacked the dalit settlements as they were reportedly upset with the intercaste marriage, the affected families accused. The residents of the dalit settlement were not supplied with milk, groceries and other essentials from October 2, after the case was heard a day before. The district administration has ordered an enquiry into the incident.
TRANSPORT WORKERS PROTEST
The workers of Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) in Chennai held a protest against the reduction of wages carried out by the management. The MTC has been operating only 60% of the buses leaving half of the workers without duty. The members of all the trade unions participated in the protest against the injustice meted out to them.
The protesting workers alleged that the salary of the workers who were not allotted duty has been cut. The management is forcing the workers to submit leave, they alleged. A worker who is eligible to receive Rs 45,000 monthly wage is being paid just Rs 16,000, the protesting workers alleged.
The buses run by MTC in Chennai are seen overloaded with the physical distancing norms thrown to the wind. The unions have been demanding the operation of 100% buses to ensure the buses are not overcrowded and as a means to ensure COVID-19 protocols.