Skip to main content

Vibrant Gujarat: It took five years for Dalits to be finally allowed to enter village temple on public land

The temple priest with Dalit activists
By Our Representative
Under the “Gujarat model” of development, there is reason why Dalits being allowed entry into a public temple in a village dominated by high caste persons makes news. This is what happened in Kherpur village, barely 30 kiometres from the Gujarat capital, Gandhinagar. A few days ago, in May second week, Dalits, with 20 households in Kherpur in Kadi taluka of Mehsana district of North Gujarat, were finally allowed to enter into the local temple and pray, without any hindrance. It is the same village which saw high caste persons fatally attacking Dalit men, women and children as a “punishment” for forcing their way into the temple in 2008.
Led by Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust chief Manjula Pradeep, the Dalits were not just welcomed in the village but even “offered” water personally by the temple priest, who had once opposed their entry. It took full five years for them to enter the temple without fear. In fact, not only were they allowed in, the priests of private temples belonging to non-Dalit communities – Patels, Rabaris, Prajapatis, Thakores and Devipujaks – sent a message Dalits were welcome in their temples, too. “A long and arduous struggle tells the saga of how this happened”, said Bharat S Parmar, a Navsarjan activist who was the chief campaigner for temple entry.
A village, many of whose Patel community members are non-resident Indians (NRIs) settled in the US, in 2008 a garba festival took place next to the temple, on the public land. Dalits youths participated in the song-and-dance function. A section of non-Dalits objected, and the festival was called off. The argument was, if Dalits participated in the function, NRIs wouldn’t agree to get their boys married with the “village daughters.” The next day, as a mark of protest, the Dalits decided to enter the temple, but they were refused entry.
Dalits prepare to enter into the temple
“A case under the anti-atrocities law was registered. The matter went to the court. Seven persons were sentenced to 100 months’ imprisonment by the Mehsana sessions court in a ruling in 2009. This inflamed the non-Dalits”, Parmar told Counterview. “Around the Diwali time, five members of a Dalit family, including two children, were going to their farm to till land in a bullock cart. They were fatally attacked. While one person’s one leg and one hand were broken, another person suffered head injury. One child fell unconscious.”
“One of the children, who ran away, reached the Dalit locality of the village and made hue and cry, the Dalits rushed to the spot. Ambulance was called. First the injured were shifted to the Civil Hospital in Kadi, but as the injury was very serious, they were shifted to Ahmedabad’s Civil Hospital. Later in the day, a Dalit elder was similarly fatally attacked. While Patels did not participate in the attack, we suspect a mischievous person among them instigated members of other castes”, Parmar said, adding, “Even the police refused to take complaint under section 307 (attempt to murder). Its FIR was registered under section 324 (voluntarily causing hurt).”
“Navsarjan took up the matter, taking things to not just to the court, but also held a well-attended rally of rural Dalits of the area on the public land of the village in solidarity with those who had been fatally attacked. Around 1,500 participated. Eight culprits were held and put behind bars. Even then, fear remained among Dalits, and they wouldn’t enter the temple. After constant consultations with village elders, especially Dalits, it was decided that on May 11 they would force their way into the temple. To our utter surprise, there was no resistance. Cops were called to ensure that there was untoward incident”, Parmar said.

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.