A 24-year-old Dalit woman sarpanch from Nanded district has alleged that upper class leaders have been preventing her from hoisting the national flag during national day celebrations. Kamal Gendaji Nanure, sarpanch of Yelur village in Kandhar taluka, said the leaders of Maratha community, including the deputy sarpanch, shoved her aside and hoisted the tricolour on January 26.
She had earlier tried to convince the members that being the village sarpanch she had the right to hoist the flag at the gram panchayat on Republic Day.
On January 31, Nanure submitted a written complaint with District Collector Dhiraj Kumar and SP Vitthal Jadhav. However, she said, no action had been initiated till date. Apparently, a majority of the households in the village belong to the Maratha community. Of the nine panchayat members, eight are Marathas. Nanure, who belongs to Matang caste, is the sole member representing the backward communities. The post of sarpanch was reserved in the last elections.
The Maharashtra government resolution passed in January 2003 says if a woman heads the gram panchayat, the flag should be hoisted by her. In case of her absence, another woman ranking next to the sarpanch should do it.
Nanure said she had convened a meeting of panchayat members on January 21 where the gramsevak explained flag hoisting rules. “The gramsevak said as sarpanch it was my right to hoist the flag. But on January 26 morning, when I reached the gram panchayat office to hoist the tricolour, the deputy sarpanch shoved me aside and hoisted the flag. He also humiliated me in front of the villagers and hurled casteist abuses at me,” Nanure has written in her complaint.
She said when she confronted the panchayat members later in the day, the deputy sarpanch told her that her job was limited to signing documents. “I travelled to Kandhar and narrated the incident to the police inspector. But nothing happened,” she said.
Nanure said her mother had faced the same treatment when she had headed the panchayat for a term about 15 years ago. “They never allowed her to hoist the flag. She tolerated because she was illiterate. I am educated and I can’t allow such humiliation,” Nanure said. Her parents work as farm labourers.
District Collector Dhiraj Kumar, in a written reply to queries by The Indian Express, said the police had started an inquiry into the matter. “...if there