Fate of Chikkanna hangs in the balance

Muralidhara Khajane

Withdrawal of ‘false’ caste certificate submitted by H.D. Kote MLA has been kept in abeyance

CRE Cellconcluded that Chikkanna produced a ‘false’ caste certificate

Tribal organisations plan to approach the Election Commission to nullify Chikkanna’s election

MYSORE: The fate of Chikkanna, Congress MLA for H.D. Kote (Reserved) Assembly Constituency, now hangs in the balance with Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) Civil Rights Enforcement Cell (CRE) directing the Deputy Commissioner to initiate action against the legislator for allegedly producing a false Scheduled Tribe certificate to contest in the Assembly election in May.

To comply with the direction, the Deputy Commissioner has directed the Assistant Commissioner to take necessary action who in turn directed the tahsildar of H.D. Kote to take legal action. The tahsildar suo motu withdrew the certificate but “without following due procedure”.

However, the legislator has been given some breathing time as the Deputy Commissioner has directed the tahsildar to keep the withdrawal of the certificate in abeyance for some time in order to follow the procedure under law.

The production of Scheduled Tribe certificate by the candidates belonging to Parivara community had become an issue during the Assembly election.

The State unit of the National Front for Aadivasi Self Rule (NFASR) and Nagarahole National Park Tribal Rights Restoration Committee (NNPTRRC), which have raised the issue of “false” caste certificates, had appealed to President Pratibha Patil to countermand the election in H.D. Kote.

Tribal organisations had accused Mr. Chikkanna, Chikkaveeranaika of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and M.C. Dodda Naika of Janata Dal (Secular) of misleading the election authorities by producing false caste certificates and had appealed to the State Election Commissioner to disqualify them.

After investigating the matter, Assistant Commissioner of Hunsur had submitted a report to the District Election Officer P. Manivannan on the alleged “tampering” of records by candidates to claim ST status to contest in the election. He also concluded that the tahsildar of H.D. Kote had issued a “controversial” caste certificate without verifying original records and had failed to follow procedure. Based on the recommendations of the Assistant Commissioner, Mr. Manivannan suspended the tahsildar on April 25, 2008 and ordered an inquiry by the police and the Department of Social Welfare.

However, the High Court stayed the inquiry while admitting an appeal by Mr. Chikkanna.

However, police authorities who inquired into the matter complained to CRE Cell, Mysore that Mr. Chikkanna had produced a “false” caste certificate. The CRE Cell, which probed the charges, concluded that Mr. Chikkanna produced a “fake” caste certificate.

The report by the authorities of CRE Cell stated that Mr. Chikkanna applied for ST certificate in April 2008 in H.D. Kote Taluk Office to contest in the election. He stated in the application that during school admission, his teacher had written “Parivara” in the caste column instead of “Naika” as his parents were illiterates. He and his family members declared themselves as Naikas during the 2001 census.

Interestingly, when the CRE Cell authorities tried to verify school records, his school admission abstract of 1959-60 was not available. They found that the caste column in the records had been tampered with. CRE Cell has also collected college admission records of Mr. Chikkanna, which stated that the legislator belonged to the Parivara community. They also confirmed that Mr. Chikkanna belonged to Parivara community and had produced false records to get ST certificate.

It is significant that Directorate of Civil Rights Enforcement issued a circular some years ago listing a few communities, including Parivara as not under ST. Meanwhile, NFASR and NNPTRRC are planning to approach the Election Commission to nullify Mr. Chikkanna’s election.

Mr. Chikkanna is now accusing the BJP government of conspiring against him.

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