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‘Harassed’ Dalit woman sarpanch to face no-confidence motion on Aug 1

A dalit woman sarpanch from Chadasana village of Becharaji taluka in Mehsana district,who had earlier this month written to various authorities complaining about alleged caste-based harassment

Written by Express News Service | Ahmedabad | Published: July 31, 2013 3:21 am

A dalit woman sarpanch from Chadasana village of Becharaji taluka in Mehsana district,who had earlier this month written to various authorities complaining about alleged caste-based harassment by other “upper caste” members of the panchayat,is now facing a no-confidence motion from the other members of the panchayat on August 1. She has also alleged that the no-confidence motion is nothing but a ploy to remove her as sarpanch.

The dalit woman sarpanch has been identified as Santok Solanki. According to the details,Solanki was selected as the sarpanch of the village in December 2011 under the Samras Yojna of the Gujarat Government where instead of electing,villagers select the sarpanch and other members of the Gram Panchayat. And in turn,the panchayat gets special benefits from the state government. The seat of sarpanch was reserved for the Scheduled Caste as per the roster of the state Government then.

Earlier,in April this year,another dalit woman sarpanch in Lakhvad village of Mehsana district had alleged harassment by her predecessors belonging to “upper castes”. In fact,the woman was arrested by police in connection with a criminal case of breach of trust and criminal intimidation lodged by one of the persons against whom she had lodged multiple complaints of harassment.

Like Chadasana,Lakhvad is also a Samras village. The all-women panchayat of Chadasana consists of six members apart from the sarpanch. Apart from Solanki and one other dalit woman,rest of the members are belonging to “upper castes”.

According to Solanki,she started a lot of developmental works in the village. “However,a majority of these upper caste members did not like it when I started some works in the dalit dominated areas. And then they started scuttling all my proposals of developmental works and started approaching authorities against me,” Solanki said.

Following this,on July 5,Solnaki had written to different authorities complaining about the caste-based harassment she was being subjected to.

“However,now one of my opposites has brought a no-confidence motion against me on the grounds of mismanagement and irregularities voting on which is on August 1. This is a ploy to remove me as sarpanch,” Solanki said.

According to Solanki,the opposition against her is led by the Deputy Sarpanch Kaliben Desai and her husband Vasibhai. When contacted,Kaliben asked to talk to her husband and Vasibhai,in turn,denied the allegations saying,“They have committed irregularities and therefore the no-confidence motion has been moved. We are not discriminating against her on her caste. As,there is one another dalit member who is with us against her (Solanki).”

When contacted,District Development Officer H N Thakkar said,“I have inquired into this issue. I have got an impression that the woman sarpanch is not being discriminated against.” And so far as the no-confidence motion is concerned,it’s an internal matter of the panchayat being governed under the provisions of the Panchayat Act.”

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