While the public library at Kinnimangalam village is said to have more than 1,000 books on its stands, the Dalits here have never had a chance even to flip through their pages once. For, it is a ‘restricted’ zone located in the area dominated by the Caste Hindu population.
The villagers claimed that a librarian was appointed to take care of the library, which was never opened for public use. “It will be opened only during inspection by government officials,” said Panchayat president Vijayarani, a victim of untouchability herself.
Moreover, some caste Hindus used to tie their cattle in front of the Panchayat Board office and Library building. Some would use the space for recreation during the day, she added.
Her husband Muthaiah said that there were separate anganwadis and TV rooms for Dalits in the village.
Meanwhile, Vijayarani Muthaiah alleged that five Caste Hindu landlords were harassing and preventing her from discharging her duties effectively.
Vijayarani Muthaiah, the panchayat president of Kinnimangalam village near Checkanurani in Usilampatti Taluk, alleged that the quintet - M Bharani Thevar, P Mani Thevar, A Mani Thevar, R Periya Karuppa Thevar and Kasi - heckled her whenever she was at the Panchayat Board office, as a result of which she was forced to work from home.
Also, she would not be allowed to sit on the chair meant for the panchayat president and would always have to take the clerk’s chair. The monthly meeting was the only occasion on which she would be at the office. In this regard, Vijayarani lodged a complaint with the District SP V Balakrishnan seeking action against the five.
When Express contacted District SP, he said that the police had registered an FIR against the persons practising untouchability in the village, based on the complaint filed by the civic chief.