College lecturer asked to leave dining hall on April 15

Members of progressive groups staged a protest against the practice of ‘Pankti Bheda’ at the Sri Krishna Math/Temple, outside the District Police Office here on Saturday.

They condemned the incident, where Vanita N. Shetty, an assistant lecturer of School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal University, was asked to leave the dinning hall of the temple for being a non-Brahmin, on April 15.

Addressing the protesters, G. Rajashekhar, president of the district unit of the Karnataka Komu Sauharda Vedike, said this incident showed that the math was following discrimination on the basis of caste.

He said Mahatma Gandhi had not entered the Sri Krishna Math/Temple during his visit to Udupi in 1934 after learning that Dalits were not allowed entry there. It was only after India became independent and adopted the Constitution that the temple allowed entry to Dalits. But as caste discrimination in open or subtle forms were being followed there, the Dalits were not enthusiastic to go there.

In this case, Ms. Vanita Shetty thought that Brahmins had their lunch only in the ‘chowki’ area of the temple and the people of other communities were permitted in the dinning hall. Jayan Malpe, convener of Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti, said the incident showed that basic courtesy was not being shown to devotees.

The government should bring all temples under its control, Mr. Malpe said. In her complaint addressed to the Superintendent of Police M.B. Boralingaiah, copies of which were released to the press, Ms. Vanita Shetty demanded that the police investigate the discrimination meted out to her and take action.

She said when she complained over telephone to the office of the Sri Krishna Math/Temple on April 15, she was told that the matter would be brought to the notice of the higher authorities.

But no one had called her so far. It would be better if the authorities of the temple installed boards which gave clear directions on the areas restricted for non-Brahmins, she added.

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