Uttarakhand Govt slammed for expelling women panchayat heads

Dehra Dun, Feb 20 (PTI) Women activists and NGOs haveslammed the BJP government in Uttarakhand for expelling threewomen district panchayat heads on charges of embezzlement offunds.

A host of women activists and their organisations havecondemned the government''s action, saying the removal is an"anti-woman" step.

Early this year, the government had removed Haridwarpanchayat unit head Ramesho Devi and chairperson ofPithoragarh Zila panchayat Ranjana Devi on various charges,including embezzlement of funds.

Later, another woman panchayat leader, Madhu Chauhan,was removed from the post of Dehra Dun zila panchayat head oncharges of alleged embezzlement of funds and dereliction ofduty.

Following the removal of Chauhan, the wife of formerBJP MLA Munna Singh Chuahan, many women organisations andsocial activists came up in support of the women leaders,condemning the government''s action.

"The women leaders have become the target of corruptbureaucrats and politicians. Chauhan was removed just becauseshe was not toeing the government''s line," alleged AvadhashKaushal, chairman of a Dehradun-based NGO, Rural Litigationand Entitlement Kendra (RLEK).

RLEK, which is working for strengthening thePanchayati Raj system, said, "Women are always at the bottomof the pyramid in Uttarakhand when it comes to exercisingpower."

Head of the Mahila Panchayat, Usha Negi, has alsocondemned the action and sought the intervention of senior BJPleader L K Advani into the matter.

Significantly, the BJP''s action came at a time whenthe Assembly elections are just a year away and Chief MinisterRamesh Pokhriyal ''Nishank'' is working hard to drive politicalmileage for providing 50 per cent reservation to women inpanchayat elections.

Meanwhile, Chauhan told PTI that she would move thecourt against her removal.

"I will place all the facts before the court and fightmy battle till my last breath," Chauhan added.

When contacted, a BJP spokesman defended the actionand said the actions were taken following probes ordered bythe administration.

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