Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Entry into temples still a dream for Dalits

Hyderabad: Entry into temples for Dalits is still a distant dream in many villages in the state. Reason: The government was not properly implementing GOs 105 and 128 which relate to untouchability.

A couple of days ago, in Tadipatri of Anantapur district, Dalits were not allowed to enter the newly constructed Shirdi Sai Baba temple inaugurated by panchayat raj minister J C Diwakar Reddy. The Dalits were prevented from entering the temple even when Dharmavaram MLA Jayamma was inside. This is not a stray incident, says AP State SC & ST Commission chairman Justice K Punnayya. It is a common sight in most of the villages in the state. There are instances where Dalits are manhandled or subjected to social boycott for entering a temple. "Our information is that GO 105 and GO 128 related to untouchability are hardly implemented," Punnayya told The Times of India.

The state government issued the two GOs following recommendation of Justice Punnayya some time ago. According to the GO 105, an SI has to visit at least one village under his jurisdiction once in a week and ensure that Dalits get entry into temples. Similarly, Civil Rights Day has to be organised on 30th of every month.

Umpteen number of cases have come to the notice of the commission that Dalits were being barred from entering into temples. Not just temple entry, two-glass system hotels, eateries and tea joints had also come to the notice of the commission. Under this system, separate glasses are kept for Dalits. They are also not allowed to use public borewells and wells. He said they are even kept away from public meetings addressed by people's representatives.

For instance, families belonging to SC community were subjected to social boycott at Allapur village in Narayankhed mandal of Medak district, as Tukaram, 19, offered a coconut in Hanuman temple on June 29 this year. A government school teacher was allegedly behind this episode. In another incident some time ago, a Hanuman temple in Mahabubnagar district was closed on the pretext that it lost sanctity as a police officer took Dalits into the temple.

In Anantapur district, Dalits are not allowed to enter even bus shelters. A Dalit should not sit and travel in the bus, if he comes across landlord or other caste people in the same bus, Justice Punnayya said. The Commission has noticed that Dalits do not get possession of lands even though they have pattas. Neither police nor MROs are interested in addressing the issue. The government should look into this aspect. This assumes greater importance as government proposes to distribute surplus land to the landless, he added.

These kind of incidents are high in Rayalaseema and Telangana regions and the Commission was incorporating them in the report to be submitted in February next year. The Commission will also verify reports of district administration and police about the implementation of the GOs and other related issues after March next year.

Source: Sun News, December 07, 2004


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