Villagers reject proposal of arch in Ambedkar’s name, want library
Kolhapur: The gram sabha of the Bedag village, in Sangli’s Miraj tehsil, has scrapped the plan to build a welcome arch and favoured a public library instead.
After a welcome arch, being built in the name of Dr B R Ambedkar got mired in controversy recently, the gram sabha decided that there will be no arch in the name of any national icon.
Last month, the arch was demolished by the Bedag gram panchayat.
This angered the dalit community of the village, and hundreds of dalit families started a march to Mumbai to raise their concerns before the government.
Deputy chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had to intervene. Fadnavis had assured the dalit community members that atrocity charges would be filed against the sarpanch and deputy sarpanch, and the welcome arch would be rebuilt.
This action did not go down well with other village residents and a bandh was observed in the village.
Later, in keeping with the deputy CM’s assurance, the Sangli zilla parishad wrote to Bedag gram panchayat to pass a resolution to build the arch and send it to the district planning and development council (DPDC) for fund sanction.
Accordingly, the gram sabha — a meeting in which all village residents above the age of 18 have a vote — was called on Tuesday amid heavy police bandobast. The office-bearers tabled the resolution and 2,200 villagers voted against it, while 180 voted in its favour.
Not only did the majority of voters reject the arch-building resolution, but they also passed a new resolution stating that no welcome arch would be built in the village — be it in the name of Dr Ambedkar or any other national hero.
Instead, they decided that they would get funds for the construction of a public library and reading room, which can be utilised by the youths preparing for competitive exams.
Maheshkumar Kamble, the leader of the dalit community, said: “The proposal’s rejection shows the deeply ingrained discrimination against people from lower castes who have been fighting for the arch to be built for a long time. The gram panchayat had earlier approved the arch. How can the gram sabha now reject a proposal that had been previously approved? We are going to take out another march to the district collector’s office on September 1 to protest against the gram sabha decision.”
Umesh Patil, the village sarpanch, said: “The villagers passed the resolution not to build an arch in the name of any national icon to avoid future controversy. The villagers are of the view that there was never any enmity on caste or religious lines, and to ensure peace in future, there should be no discussion on this controversial issue. The suggestion to build a modern library with study rooms came from the villagers and they adopted it as a resolution. This will be forwarded to ZP.”
According to a 2018 notification from the state government, the construction of public utilities such as schools, roads, hospitals and other facilities should be given priority.
After the arch was demolished, an inquiry team found the gram panchayat guilty of not taking the decision as per the democratic convention.
Therefore, the ZP directed that a gram sabha should be called to pass a resolution democratically.
Courtesy : TOI
Note: This news piece was originally published in timesofindia.com and used purely for non-profit/non-commercial purposes exclusively for Human Right