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Today Date : Friday, May 24, 2024

Govt staff the sole voter as tribal village boycotted polls over unmet demand

Govt staff the sole voter as tribal village boycotted polls over unmet demand

While the rest of the state experienced a brisk voter turnout, the tribal village of Sengalathupadi in Yercaud stood in stark contrast, remaining eerily quiet as not a single voter graced the polling station throughout the day, prompting a high-stakes drama as government officials pushed their efforts to the limits in vain to persuade residents to cast their votes

It was a remarkable display of unified protest, as residents of Sengalthuppadi, a tribal hill village nestled 20 kilometers from Yercaud in Salem District, chose to boycott the election, citing the persistent neglect of their longstanding plea for a public graveyard. With determination, the community stood as one, resulting in just a single government employee exercising his voting rights at the local polling booth at 6.11 pm following a day long high drama.

Despite comprising over 500 families and housing 363 eligible voters, Sengalthuppadi has found itself grappling with an long time demand for a dedicated burial ground. The genesis of this protest traces back to past electoral cycles when the village staged demonstrations during assembly elections, pressing for the provision of a public cemetery. Although assurances were made by governmental officials, pledges remained unfulfilled, leaving the community disillusioned.

In a recent escalation of their grievances, villagers submitted a petition to officials including the Yercaud Police Inspector, Tahsildar, and Panchayat Union Commissioner. Despite assurances of land allocation for the cemetery, complications arose when a private plantation owner reportedly fenced off the designated area, thwarting progress.

On March 13, the villagers resorted to raising black flags and staging a sit-in protest, vowing not to relent until their demands were met. Following negotiations with Tahsildar Ramesh Kumar, promises were made to address the issue within a stipulated timeframe. However, with commitments left unfulfilled, the community resumed their election boycott stand.

Yesterday the people united to protest the officials’ failure to remove the work that the private plantation owner had promised to be removed, and they declared that they would boycott the election. Tahsildar Ramesh Kumar, who arrived at the location at 2:00 pm after learning of the situation, engaged the people but the people made it clear  they would not cast a ballot until their demand is met.

Subsequent to that at 5:30 p.m., Sengalathuppadi village residents were visited by Dr. P Menaka Salem District Revenue Commissioner and Mr. Sangamithrai, Assistant Director of Rural Development (Panchayats) who encouraged them to cast their ballots right away promising to follow through on their demands within three months. During the talks the villagers couldn't agree on anything. When none of the 363 voters came forward to vote till 6:11 pm the officials registered the vote of the woman village assistant Malar who lives in the area and wrapped up the polling.

Efforts to intervene and persuade the villagers to participate in the electoral process througout the day of polling proved futile.