Ramanathapuram police have kickstarted a row in Tamil Nadu, after they set seven preconditions for granting permission for Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations.
The strictures, according to The New Indian Express, have reduced the architect of the Indian Constitution to the leader of just one community.
According to reports, the root cause of this outrage was over a communication from the local inspector to the TN Untouchability Eradication Front. The Front had sought permission to organise a function at Chathirakudi village in Ramanathapuram district.
In response to the application, these were the conditions reportedly laid out by a local inspector:
- Ambedkar's portraits should be removed immediately after paying floral tribute and distributing sweets,
- no loudspeakers,
- no sports and games in problematic areas,
- no new flags, flag posts, boards, portraits or festoons should be put up, no flex boards; - no public meeting or rally without prior permission,
- no permission for functions in areas where other communities reside.
N Kalaiarasan, district secretary of TN Untouchability Eradication Front told The New Indian Express:
The organisation has been conducting Ambedkar’s birth anniversary every year without any restrictions. But this year, we received orders from the police that stated these conditions.
Police allegedly directed organisers to restrict celebrations within their own areas in villages like Mennendhi, Muthuvaya and Chathirakudi. They were reportedly instructed to not extend it to areas dominated by caste Hindus. Kalaiarasan then contacted police officials, who claimed to have given a similar notice to all applicants in the district.
VCK general secretary D Ravikumar told The News Minute:
The condition set by the police, especially the one where we are told to not celebrate in areas dominated by caste Hindus, is unacceptable.
"This is an insult to a national icon who is celebrated across the country. They are making it seem like he was the leader of one particular caste when he is actually the Father of the Indian Constitution," he argued.
Police have however reportedly denied that this is a measure to restrain the community from celebrating the birth anniversary of the late leader. Speaking to TNIE, Deputy Inspector General Kapil Kumar Saratkar noted that Ramanathapuram has been a sensitive district due to caste rivalries, which prompted the police to take precautions.
“But these conditions were given based on the topography of the villages, not stereotypes,” insisted the officer.
But the justification has done little to quell the anger against the order. "By restricting where the celebrations are held, what are they trying to imply?" asks Ravikumar. "Do police even have the authority to give such directives? Authorities who gave these preconditions must be booked under the Atrocities against SC/ST Act and action must be taken against them," he added.
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