Saturday, September 21, 2002

Dalits pay for temple refuge

Patna, Sept. 20: Atrocities against Dalits continue to haunt Bihar with three members of the community being assaulted in Kaimur district for entering a Shiva temple, reports our special correspondent.

Ravindra Ram, Badhu Ram and Waki Ram were dredging a pond in Taritha village in Kaimur when a sudden downpour prompted them to take shelter in the nearby temple, said a senior official of the district.

Members of the upper castes were furious at the trio for "soiling the purity of the temple". The Dalits were dragged out of the temple by musclemen and thrashed so severely that they had to be taken to hospital.

The villagers first approached the panchayat for justice but in vain. The Dalits then sought help from officers at the local police station, which referred the case to the SC/ST cell of Ramnagar police station. Although a case was registered last month, no action has been taken as yet.

The Dalits allege that the case has been hushed up with the help of an investigating officer who belongs to the uppercastes.

The three who were thrashed have been offered bribes by the upper-caste lobby and threatened to force them to withdraw the case, claimed Faggu Ram, a resident of the village.

The Kaimur district magistrate has ordered that the property of the accused - who are absconding - be seized.

The Kaimur incident is just the latest in a string of atrocities on Dalits.

In Phulwari district's Sandesh village, six Dalits were assaulted and refused entry to a Hindu temple in 1997. Three persons were booked in connection with the case.

In 1998, a Dalit priest was kicked out of a Hindu temple in Nagri village of Bhojpur district by supporters of the Ranbir Sena. An FIR was lodged, but no action was taken.

Source: The Telegraph, September 21, 2002


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