The action of the Nagapattinam District Collector and the District Revenue Officer who led Dalits into the Chettipulam Ekambareswarar temple, no doubt, deserves praise. But the absence of non-Dalits during the temple entry is disturbing. In spite of progressive efforts made by the governments at the Centre and in the States, including the creation of samathuvapurams and similar acts, the mindset of people has not changed, which is unfortunate.
The entry of caste at the time of admission in schools should be dropped — for a few years to begin with — and the result monitored. It could mark the beginning of a casteless society.
While we commend the efforts of the Nagapattinam administration, the temple entry raises some questions. Untouchability — and its practice in all forms — is prohibited under the law. Denying entry to Dalits in a temple is a criminal offence. Why, in the first place, is such discrimination allowed to continue? Is it not the responsibility of the district administration all over India to ensure that Dalits are given encouragement and protection to enter places of worship? The Chettipulam event shows that there still exist places of worship in which Dalits are denied entry.
It has taken 60 years for our government to take Dalits into a temple, that too with full police escort. The absence of non-Dalits when Dalits were led into the temple is highly condemnable.
We wish to congratulate the District Collector and all those who were associated in helping Dalits enter the Chettipulam temple. This act should be an eye-opener to all those who hold on to untouchability. Though our nation has progressed on many fronts, we come across disturbing news of oppression and other cruelties meted out to Dalits almost on a daily basis. There should be concerted efforts from all of us to ensure that all are equal in the eyes of law and god. Let us hope that the Collector’s appeal to Dalits to function normally without any fear will work and his assurance of all administrative support to them will be everlasting.
Varun G. Pisharody & others,
Lalaji Memorial Omega International School, Chennai