Even though the row over midday meals has been resolved in the Kuppegala government school, Dalit leaders of the village near here said they were facing discrimination in other spheres of life.
Children of upper castes, who had boycotted midday meals in the school after a Dalit was appointed as cook, have now begun having meals after developments in the last 10 days, including a conciliatory meeting convened by Revenue Minister V. Srinivas Prasad and a visit to the village by progressive seers.
But, Dalit Jagruti Samiti leader of Kuppegala M.V. Manjunath alleged that the Dalits of the village continued to be barred from entering hotels, a temple belonging to the Muzrai Department, and the Samudaya Bhavan, besides obstructing them from using the burial ground.
“Dalits are served outside the hotel premises. Even if it is raining, they cannot enter the hotel. We have to organise our marriages in front of our houses by putting up makeshift shelters, while the Samudaya Bhavan in the village is reserved only for upper castes,” Mr. Manjunath alleged.
The priest of Anjaneya Swamy temple has left the temple, while the hundi, bell and ornaments on the deity have been taken away by the upper castes after the Dalits entered the temple ahead of the Ganesh festival this year, Mr. Manjunath claimed.
The matter was brought to the notice of the district administration during a phone-in programme about three months ago.
But, Assistant Commissioner of Mysuru Syeda Ayesha said the district administration has acted on the Dalits’ demand for a burial ground.
Deputy Commissioner C. Shikha passed an order to purchase 1 acre and two guntas of land at cost of Rs. 27 lakh.
Meanwhile, Saraswathi, Social Welfare Officer, said there is no bar on the entry of Dalits into the temple. “The priest of the temple died some time ago and his son was performing the ‘pooja’. Now, the Muzrai Department has to appoint a new priest,” she said and added that she will visit the temple shortly to ensure that the hundi, bell and ornaments are restored.
Reacting to the allegation about the denial of Samudaya Bhavan for the marriage of Dalits, she said the bhavan was constructed as the Vokkaligara Samudaya Bhavan.
“If Dalits give us an application, the government will sanction Rs. 10 lakh for construction of a Samudaya Bhavan,” she said and added that the remainder should be arranged from the local area funds of legislators and MPs.