Andhra Pradesh

300 Dalit families enter 200-year-old temple for first time in Andhra Pradesh’s Kurnool district

Dalits ringing the temple bell for the first time at Hosur village in Pattikonda mandal of Kurnool district on Saturday.

Dalits ringing the temple bell for the first time at Hosur village in Pattikonda mandal of Kurnool district on Saturday.   | Photo Credit: U. SUBRAMANYAM

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Intervention of authorities help them have a darshan at 200 year old temple

Celebration rented the air at Hosur village of Pattikonda mandal of Kurnool district on Saturday when 300 Dalit families formally entered the temple for the first time. A massive procession, led by various caste organisations, was taken out from Ambedkar statue in Pattikonda town to the village.

According to the temple authorities, while the records for the Veerabhadra Swamy (village deity of Hosur) temple exist only from the 1960s, the temple is said to be about 200 years old. Dalits of the village were not allowed into the temple since the beginning.

The trigger

The village’s power structures were challenged by young educated Dalits in early September. The Dalits demanded that they be included in the ‘Peerla Panduga’ (Muharram) processions. However, “caste Hindus” disagreed to include them.

When the police tried to intervene, “caste Hindus” along with Muslims hurled stones at officers damaging a few vehicles and injuring a few policemen. Later, cases were registered against a few people. This shot the village into the limelight.

This attention brought various caste organisations and the Human Rights Forum (HRF) to Hosur. These organisations alleged that the Dalits in Hosur were facing numerous issues, including exclusion from temples.

Meetings

The district authorities took up the issue promptly and held about four meetings with Dalits and “caste Hindus”. In the meetings, Dhone DSP V. Narayana Reddy and the Adoni Revenue Divisional Officer A. Balaganeshaiah asked the “caste Hindus” to allow Dalits into the temple. According to the authorities, the “caste Hindus” agreed to the propositions and told them that Dalits could enter the temple freely.

Temple entry

On Saturday, Dalits, led by Kula Vivaksha Porata Samithi and Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti (MRPS), entered the temple. This was the first time in the village’s history that Dalits formally entered the temple.

“It is a good day today,” said the RDO while addressing the crowd. The Dalits marched for about four km to the village from Pattikonda town and entered the temple in a great furore.

A meeting was also held at the Panchayat office in the village, where the “caste Hindus” hurled stones at the police. During the meet, the RDO, the DSP, and leaders of the various caste organisations spoke and congratulated the Dalits on achieving their rights.

The police had deployed significant personnel to make sure that the process went on smoothly. The DSP said: “Over 100 personnel have been deployed. Including 10 sub-inspectors, two circle-inspectors and few from the special branch.”

KVPS State secretary Andra Malyadri, said, “Issues are being faced by Dalits in nearby villages too. For these problems to end, everyone must work towards eradicating caste discrimination.”

Community lunch

After the meeting, a community lunch was held near the panchayat office. The villagers, along with district authorities and various caste organisations sat down together signifying the end of discrimination in Hosur.

However, few local Dalits said that while they have achieved their rights, there was still a lot to work to do in the village.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 1:41:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/300-dalit-families-enter-temple-for-first-time-in-kurnool-district/article30308382.ece

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