Dalit woman in MP sees ‘conspiracy’ to remove her as Sarpanch

Damoh (Madhya Pradesh) : A Dalit woman here has accused Madhya Pradesh Finance Minister Jayant Mallya of engaging in a “conspiracy” to have her removed as Sarpanch of Bandakpur village panchayat in Damoh district.

Poona Bai said she has been removed because Mallya does not want her to hoist the national flag at the Panchayat Bhavan on August 15, the Independence Day.

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She has been sitting on dharna for the last five days in front of the office of Damoh’s District Magistrate in protest against what she calls a “political and administrative conspiracy” that had her removed from her post thrice since her election in 2012 — the latest on August 2.

“Soon after I was elected, local leaders have been putting pressure on me to work according to their wishes. My refusal to toe the line resulted in hatching of a conspiracy against me. I hoisted the flag on the Panchayat Bhavan in 2012. Later, Mallya’s son Siddharth made false complaints against me to have me removed,” Poona Bai told IANS on Friday.

Mallya told reporters that he has asked the District Magistrate to provide him with a detailed report on the matter.

Chief Executive Officer of Damoh block M.R. Meena told IANS that the Additional Commissioner’s court had ordered an enquiry into Poona Bai’s complaint.

“But she had already been given the charge. Later when things became clear, she was removed from the post and an enquiry committee was set up. The committee’s report is now awaited,” Meena said.

Poona Bai said she was first removed from her post some months after her election in 2012. She said she then went to the high court to have her removal stayed.

She said she was removed a second time as Sarpanch on August 13, 2015 — two days before she was scheduled to hoist the flag on Panchayat Bhavan — on the order of the District Magistrate.

She appealed against the District Magistrate’s order in the Additional Commissioner’s court, which decided on July 21 in her favour, Poona Bai said.

She said she re-assumed office on July 29, but was removed for the third time on August 2 — again only a few days ahead of Independence Day when she was to hoist the flag.