It was also against “indifferent” attitude of State to murder of Dalit boy

It was business as usual on Wednesday for the Dalits of Pachery village, part of the Mandalamanickam panchayat near Kamudhi, who stayed away from the polling booths and stuck to their daily grind.

As decided at a village meeting a few days ago, the entire Dalit population of Pachery [Pallabachery] boycotted the civic elections protesting the ‘selection' of president in an undemocratic manner and the “indifferent” attitude of the State government to the murder of Palanikumar, a Dalit boy of Pachery, a day prior to the Immanuel Sekaran memorial day and Paramakudi police firing.

The alleged denial of road access to the village through the Mandalamanickam, dominated by caste Hindus, was also among the reasons cited by the Dalits for boycotting the election.

Polling officials of the two booths in the panchayat union primary school at Pachery were greeted not by voters but by reporters all through the day. While booth No.46 has 349 votes of Pachery, No.49 has 510 votes of Pachery and Kodangipatty hamlets.

With the president ‘elected unopposed', the electors had to vote for electing ward members of the Ramanathapuram district panchayat and the Kamudhi panchayat union.

Though all 12 officials and staff attached to the booths were waiting for the voters from 7 a.m. with a posse of police, no one from Pachery and Kodangipatty came for exercising their franchise. No agent of the candidates were present.

The videographer was busy filming everything except voting.

Presiding Officer K.K. Amarlal (28) told The Hindu that he was disappointed and passed on the information to the zonal officers.

“It is a hard decision but we don't have a better option to register our protest. We need justice and fair inquiry into the Paramakudi police firing,” said I. Thangavel (43), father of Palanikumar of Pachery, who had a tattoo of the ‘two leaves' symbol of the AIADMK on his hand.

“Though it is a reserved panchayat, the caste Hindus have “handpicked a puppet candidate,” who was elected unopposed.

The post was openly auctioned for Rs.15 lakh at a hamlet recently and the money divided among all 8 hamlets of Mandalamanickam panchayat illegally. What is the use in taking part in the election?” asked K. Muthukaruppaiah, another Dalit of Pachery.

P. Anjaneyar of Kodangipatty said that the villagers boycotted the polling as they had to trek 8 km to reach Pachery for casting the vote. The officials did not heed their request to establish a booth at Kadangipatty.