In another instance of caste-based discrimination, a Dalit panchayat president in a village of Tamil Nadu's Tiruvallur district has claimed she was not allowed to hoist the national flag on Independence Day.
V Amurtham, the 60-year-old panchayat chief of Athupakkam village, about 45 km from state capital Chennai, said she was invited to hoist the flag at a government school. However, she was later asked not to come citing Covid-19 concerns.
The panchayat chief's son, Sasikumar, said his mother received the call inviting her to the school for flag hoisting at 8:30pm, but was asked half an hour later to not come. He added that the Independence Day event was held without her the next day, despite the apparent health concerns.
Amurtham claimed that the former panchayat chief still held sway over community affairs and that she has been at the receiving end of discrimination and threats.
"My mother is wondering if she should give up the responsibility," said Sasikumar.
Aurtham told reporters that she needs protection as she feels threatened because she belongs to the SC/ST community.
This was the second such incident for the panchayat chief. In January, Amurtham was turned away from hoisting the tricolour in the school.
When contacted, district authorities said they have not received any formal complaint. Meanwhile, the State Human Rights Commission has sought a report from the district collector.