Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Dalits defy ban, enter Rajasthan temple
Sanjay Singh Badnor
[ 13 Dec, 2006 0046hrs ISTTIMES NEWS NETWORK ]

AJMER: Backed by police muscle and led by social activists, more than 800 Dalits entered a temple of goddess Chavanda in Rajasthan’s Bhilwara district on Tuesday to avenge the eviction of a Dalit from the temple by members of the dominant Gujjar community of the area.

Dalits had gathered at the temple under the leadership of Magsaysay awardee and social worker Aruna Roy and had announced that they would push their way into the temple at Suliya village.

Caste tensions have been simmering in the area since the Navratras in October when a man, Hazari Bhilai, from the Dalit community of Bhopas, was prevented by some Gujjars from performing puja in the temple. He was also beaten up.

Incidentally, the temple in current official records is under the care of Gujjars, who also perform puja there.

After this, some Gujjars also issued a declaration in early November that no Dalit would henceforth be allowed to enter the temple.

Subsequently, angry Dalits collected under the leadership of Aruna Roy and protested. It was then announced that a Dalit Adhikari Sammelan and mass temple entry would take place on December 12.

Earlier, on November 26, Rajasthan panchayati raj minister Kalulal Gurjar, who belongs to the Gujjar community, entered the temple with some Dalits. But local Dalits of the village boycotted this event.

Govind Gupta, SP Bhilwara, said, "There was never any issue of Dalits not being allowed to enter the temple. It was only one stray incident." But he admitted a large police force was deployed on Tuesday at the temple as a purely precautionary measure.


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