Sahaya Novinstone Lobo
CHENNAI: A TV journalist was assaulted on Tuesday while covering the story about a Dalit panchayat president, who was stopped from hoisting the Tricolour on the Independence Day by members of dominant castes in her village. Two persons have been arrested for the assault.
The issue began at the Athupakkam Village in Gummidipoondi Taluk on Independence Day. V Amrutham, the panchayat president of the reserved constituency, was invited to hoist the flag at the local school, initially. However, later, the school headmistress was allegedly persuaded, by members of dominant castes, not to call Amrutham to hoist the flag. “The discrimination began the day my mother took over as the president,” says her son.
“Initially, she was not even allowed inside the office. Now, she goes occasionally, when they need her signature. She does not even know for what the cheques signed by her are used.” When the report about this incident came out in the news, the State Human Rights Commission called for a report. Senior revenue officials have conducted inquiries with Amrutham who, according to sources, have explained the discrimination that she faces.
On Tuesday, M Ezhilarasan, who works with a popular TV channel and Yacob, who works with a Tamil newspaper, went to the village to cover the issue. When they reached the panchayat office, they allegedly found it empty. “As the office was empty, we decided to record some footage there. Suddenly, panchayat secretary Sasikumar and vice president Revathy’s husband Vijayakumar arrived there.
They started yelling that we had no right to videotape an empty public office and started assaulting me,” says Ezhil, who was beaten up and locked in a room. Yacob, who was also at the spot, contacted other reporters and police arrived.
Things escalated with the arrival of the police, revenue department officials, and other journalists. While the journalists filed a complaint against Sasikumar and other, the latter filed a complaint against the reporter.
Later, around 50 persons gathered in support of Sasikumar at the Tiruvallur Superintendent of Police office. Superintendent Aravindan said that an FIR was registered against Sasikumar and Vijayakumar and the duo was arrested on charges of rioting, using obscene words, causing hurt, wrongful confinement and criminal intimidation.
This story first appeared in ‘New Indian Express’ here.