Friday, November 07, 2003

Upper caste Hindus ban Dalits from temple in Bihar village

Imran Khan

Patna, November 7

In another instance of social discrimination in Bihar, upper caste Hindus have banned Dalits from entering a village temple for the past two months and no action has been taken despite complaints to the police.

The incident has taken place in Khirikare village of Bhojpur district, supposedly a Maoist stronghold since the 1970s.

The ban on Dalits, considered untouchables according to the rigid Hindu caste system, has led to tensions but administration officials have not punished those responsible.

The district magistrate sought a report from block and sub-divisional officials but they have not responded yet. The incident was reported in the media only this week.

A social activist said a police complaint has been lodged against four villagers but no arrests have been made.

The inhuman practice of being untouchability is still rampant in Bihar. This week, Vibhisan Paswan from Nugaon village in Buxar district was beaten up and not allowed to offer prayers at a ceremony by upper caste Hindus. A complaint has been lodged against 26 people, including the village headman.

"The upper caste Hindus asked him not to enter a 'yagna' (sacrificial fire) site because he was considered untouchable," said a police official. Paswan was seriously injured and has been admitted to a government hospital.

Ironically, he was actively involved in organising the yagna. But when he said he wanted to participate, he was told that it was impossible. A police official said Paswan was beaten up in the presence of police

In several villages, Dalits are not allowed to take part in prayers along with upper caste Hindus during festivals.

During Durga Puja last month, a 55-year-old Dalit man was shot dead after upper caste Hindus refused him permission to pray at the village marquee.

Dalit youths were beaten up in clashes following the incident in Kaimur district.

Source: Indo-Asian News Service, November 7, 2003


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