Karnataka: Dalit Family Fined Rs 25,000 after Child Enters Temple Premises
By: Pragya Singh
A Dalit family in Miyapur village of Koppal District, Karnataka, was fined Rs. 25,000 after their three-year-old boy entered the premises of a local Anjaneya temple, Times of India reported.
The upper-caste majority of the village had decided that the penalised money would be used to perform the rituals of purifying the premises, the police told the paper.
The police have booked five people after a case was filed at Kushtagi Police Station. These include the priest Kanakappa Poojari and four members of the Ganiga community, a sub-caste of the dominant Lingayats. Their names are Hanumanagouda, Sharengouda, Gavisiddappa and Viruprakashagouda Myageri.
According to a TNM report, the alleged segregationists have been booked under Sections 504 and 149 of the Indian Penal Code as well as under sections of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989, following a complaint by the Social Welfare Assistant Director Balachandra.
The boy belongs to the Dalit Channdasar community.
According to the TNM dispatch, the family visited the Anjaneya Temple on September 4 to offer puja from outside on the occasion of the toddler's birthday. It started raining, and the boy ran into the temple to take cover. The priest and other upper castes of the village opposed the child's act as the entry of Dalits are prohibited in the temple.
The Ganigas imposed the penalty after holding a week-long discussion.
The police came to know about the incident when the parents of the toddler approached the community head, saying they could not afford the penalty amount.
Koppal Superintendent T Shreedhar, along with the other officials, held a peace meeting on September 18 to end the controversy in the village as the Dalit family was not ready to lodge a formal complaint fearing reprisal. The police warned the Ganigas that strict legal action will be taken upon the repetition of such practices and asked people from all communities to enter the temple.
"It is a shameful incident and the family was not ready to file a case. We have collected information from the ground, which shows that about 25-30 villages in the district continue to indulge in such evil practices. We are planning to involve a private agency to sensitise the population by a programme called IEC (Information, Education, Communication) for the betterment." Suralkar Vikash Kishor, the Deputy Commissioner of Koppal district said to the Indian Express.
It must be noted that while in this village and thousands of others across India, it may be the ‘norm’ that proscribes entry of Dalits into temples, the practice violates the existing laws.
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