Tension prevailed at Tejur village near Hassan on Wednesday when a few Dalits entered a temple in the presence of policemen, putting an end to the decades-old restriction imposed on them. As a few youths from the Dalit colony stepped inside the temple, a section of people from upper castes raised slogans cursing them for breaking the ‘tradition’, followed all these years.
Both the factions engaged in a heated argument over the issue even as officers of the taluk administration tried to resolve the differences. Later, representatives of pro-Dalit organisations staged a protest in Hassan demanding that the district administration hold a peace meeting at the village to ensure harmony.
In the village of over 500 families, around 100 families belonged to Scheduled Castes, while the rest are Vokkaligas. Members of Ambedkar Yuvaka Sangha in the village had attempted to put up a banner of a popular TV serial based on Dr.B.R.Ambedkar’s life story near the site allotted for an Ambedkar Bhavan in the village in the first week of August. The upper caste people had allegedly opposed it, forcing the Dalit youths to approach the Assistant Commissioner of Hassan. The youths had also alleged that the Scheduled Castes of the village had not been allowed to enter Veeranjaneya Temple, a Muzrai temple, all these years. They demanded that the administration allow them to enter the temple and also allow them to put up the banner.
The Hassan taluk administration had scheduled the temple entry on Wednesday. When the officers reached the village, the upper caste people said they would not oppose the entry of Dalits into the temple. However, they exhibited their anger in the form of slogans when Dalits entered the temple.
Manjunath T.C., president of Ambedkar Yuvaka Sangha, said the upper caste people also broke the pipeline supplying water to the Dalit colony in the village. “All these years they did not allow us to enter the temple. They are not allowing us to put up a banner. I doubt whether we are living in a free country”, he added.
Leader of Dalit Sangharsha Samiti H.K. Sandesh and others staged a protest in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office demanding that the administration ensure the safety of Dalits in the village.