April 30, 2016

India: Dalit cop stopped from entering temple in Uttarakhand state

The Times of India

Dalit cop stopped from entering temple
Shivani Azad | TNN | Apr 30, 2016, 03.51 PM IST
DEHRADUN: In Chakrata, a Dalit constable had the gates of the local Mahasu, Vikar and Silgur temples shut on his face when he went there with his newly wedded wife to seek blessings. The local Dalits have complained about a ban on their entry into these temples to the governor who has assured them of a fair inquiry into the matter.

On April 27, constable Geetaram, 25, and his family members started the wedding rituals with a visit to the local temple in Bisoi whose gates were allegedly shut upon him. "Since it was an auspicious moment, we preferred to remain quiet, rather than picking up a fight with the upper caste men, on this subject, but we got really devastated when the gates of even Mahasu, Vikar and Silgur temples in Rangoi village were also locked for us. We were very disheartened," said Jagdishram, Geetaram's elder brother and a schoolteacher.

"In other states, women are struggling to enter temples, but in Uttarakhand, even men struggle to enter temples. Such incidents lower people's self-esteem. I am a cop who fights for the people. How can my own people discriminate us on the basis of my caste?" Geetaram told TOI.

Agitated by such discriminatory incidents in Garhwal's Jaunsar Bawar region, Dalit activist Saraswati Kunwar has decided to start a movement on the issue. "Caste-based discrimination prevalent in this era is not only a subject of shame, but it also puts a bad light on India's global image. It is a humiliation to the humanity. We will start a revolution in Uttarakhand to protest such discrimination against Dalits. It will begin from the Jaunsar Bawar region," Kuamr said.

In Januray this year, Dalits and women were allowed in the famous Parsuram temple in the region after 400 years. The management of the temple decided to discontinue the centuries-old "tradition" by announcing that "everyone will in future be welcome". However, Dalit leaders and activists, who said they had been fighting a bitter battle to end this discrimination, added a greater war was yet to be won as 339 other temples in the region still have the ban.
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