TN This Week: Pongal Cash Gift, Pollachi Case Arrests, Re-opening Theatres, Jallikattu - All Turns Sour for AIADMK Govt
Since the Pongal cash gift was announced in Tamil Nadu, it has raked up many controversies, but the blatant violations by the ruling-AIADMK government reached new heights last week. Trans-rights and differently-abled rights activists have also written to the chief minister demanding inclusivity in the scheme.
An AIADMK cadre and two others were arrested in the Pollachi sexual assault case.
Farmers and workers in the state continued their protest against the three contentious farm laws.
The daily COVID-19 tally has further reduced this week, easing the stress on healthcare and frontline workers. At this juncture, the decision to allow 100% occupancy in theatres and Jallikattu celebrations was not received well. NewsClick brings a roundup of the happenings in the state this week.
FARMERS TO BURN FARM LAWS
On January 6, under the banner of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC), farmers gathered in Chennai and held a sit-in-protest emphasising the need to withdraw the “anti-farmer, pro-corporate” agriculture laws. The AIKSSC has called upon farmers to burn copies of the controversial farm laws on the day of the Bhogi festival, which is on January 13.
Workers led by the Centre for Indian Trade Unions (CITU) hit the streets in solidarity with the farmers and opposing privatisation of public sector undertakings. They held protests in 72 centres across Tamil Nadu on January 6. Read More
PONGAL FESTIVAL GIFTS: MARGINALISED SECTIONS CRY DISCRIMINATION
Leader of the opposition in the state, M K Stalin criticised the government’s Pongal festival cash gift of Rs. 2,500 as an election gimmick of the ruling AIADMK party as no satisfactory relief was extended to people during the lockdown and Nivar cyclone.
The government reportedly broke many protocols during the distribution of the cash gift. Protests were held in parts of the state accusing the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) of blatantly misleading the public using state funds. Read more
The Pongal festival is around the corner, but there is still no response to the memorandums submitted to Chief Minister Edappady K Palaniswami that requested extension of the Pongal cash gift scheme to the trans community and families living in leprosy homes.
Activists for the rights of the differently abled filed a petition before the Madras High Court alleging that the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016, is being flouted by the Pongal cash gift scheme. Read more
POLLACHI SEXUAL ASSAULT CASE HITS AIADMK
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has arrested three persons, including an AIADMK student-wing leader, in the Pollachi sexual assault case. Following the arrest on January 6, the AIADMK issued a statement expelling the accused from the party.
With this, the total number of those arrested in the two-year-old case has gone up to eight. The case came to light in February 2019 after a 19-year-old woman lodged a sexual assault and blackmail compliant. Police probe revealed that a network of men had similarly harassed and blackmailed over 50 women in Coimbatore's Pollachi town.
The All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) held a demonstration in front of the Madras HC condemning the offence on January 6.
The arrest of the party cadre has come at a dire time for the AIADMK. The situation of the AIADMK was already bleak with an evident internal rift between CM Edappadi K Panaliswami (EPS) and his deputy O Panneerselvam. The BJP not accepting EPS as the alliance’s CM candidate was not helping the party much. The speculation that with the release of V. K. Sasikala (on or before January 27), a shift in cadre from the AIADMK may take place makes the situation worse. Read more
OPENING OF THEATRES RECEIVES FLAK
The state government’s decision to allow full occupancy in theatres from January 4 has not gone down well with the healthcare professionals. They feel this is a risk at a time when the COVID-19 cases are on the decline and could prove detrimental to the efforts taken till now.
Opposing the decision, a doctor from Puducherry wrote an open letter to actors Vijay and Silambarasan (because they had requested the TN CM to open theatres) and to the government of Tamil Nadu. The letter circulated virally on social media. Opening theatres during the pandemic “is a blatant barter system, trading lives for money," the doctor wrote.
Afterwards, following the Centre’s guidelines, The TN government on January 8 cancelled its decision to permit 100% occupancy in theatres and multiplexes. Theatres and multiplexes would be allowed 50% occupancy, but also allowed to screen special shows.
CM Palaniswami along with Deputy CM Panneerselvam are set to flag off the famous Alanganallur jallikattu event on January 16. The bull-fight celebration as part of the Pongal festival recieved similar responses as the opening of theatres. Doctors have sent a letter to the CM and Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar urging them to immediately withdraw the permission.
MINISTER TESTS COVID POSITIVE, CONFUSIONS AS COLLEGES REOPEN
Just as the daily tally of COVID-19 cases started going below 1,000 cases per day and the non-COVID healthcare services resumed, four in the state tested positive for the new strain of the virus, as found in the United Kingdom.
Tamil Nadu has recorded 805 positive cases of COVID-19 on January 7, bringing the state tally to 8,23,986. As of Thursday, the death toll was at 12,200 and the total number of recoveries at 8,04,239.
The state minister for food and civil supplies, R Kamaraj tested positive for Covid-19 on January 5 and was admitted to a hospital in Chennai.
The second round of dry run for the COVID-19 vaccination is being held in 736 districts across 33 states and Union Territories in India. Union Health Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan visited Chennai's Rajiv Gandhi Government Central Hospital on January 8 to review the dry run.
Colleges reopened on January 4 after they were shut due to the pandemic in March last year. The lack of clear guidelines has led to plenty of confusion regarding attendance, examinations and grades.
POSTAL DEPARTMENT EXAMS NOT CONDUCTED IN TAMIL
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader S. Venkatesan, MP from Madurai, has written to Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad requesting a fresh notification including Tamil as a medium of examination in the Postal Department Examinations. The issue was earlier raised in the Parliament and clinched, but in the notification issued by the Postal Department, the choice of mediums was confined to English and Hindi.
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