September 13th, 2017
Telangana’s Pakpatlla Village Development Committee (VDC) members on Friday, September 8, 2017 imposed a penalty of Rs 500 on a Dalit man for offering prayers at the Gram Devatha Pochamma Thalli Temple.
The Dalit man, B Muthyam, had entered the temple last Sunday, said a report by The New Indian Express.
Muthyam had visited the temple after recovering from an illness. He waited for the priest, but as there was no sign of him he decided to conduct the ceremony himself. Muthyam went to the main shrine, lit a diya, broke a coconut and offered prayers.
Some villagers took notice of this incident and complained about it to the VDC. The VDC met on Friday and promptly imposed the fine on the Dalit man for desecrating the temple’s “purtity”.
Muthyam pleaded that he did nothing wrong. He said, “Can’t I enter the temple, just because I am a Dalit?”
Muthyam’s repeated pleas, however, fell on deaf ears.
Muthyam is justifiably angry and upset with the decision. He told CNN News18, “I was fined Rs 500 because I am a Dalit. Is it a crime to enter a temple? God is one. But still, the caste system is so much prevalent. What has changed in so many years?”
The VDC has upper caste members and villagers say that such fines on Dalits have been imposed earlier as well.
The Pakpatlla Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituencies’ elected representative, B Srinivas, condemned the action of the VDC and demanded that the district administration dissolve it. Mandal police said they had no intimation about the matter.
Second incident in two weeks
This is the second incident of atrocities against Dalits in the country this month. An upper caste person allegedly tried to kill Dalits who drew water from the village well by pouring endosulfan in it a few days ago. This incident took place in Channur village of North Karnataka.
The well is about 200 metres away from the village and it is the only source of drinking water for Dalit families residing in the village. There are seven other wells in the village as well, which is exclusively used by the upper castes in the village
The land was leased by an upper caste person four years ago. Since then, Gollalappagouda Kallappagouda Kukanur has not allowed Dalits to draw water from the well. A pump has been fit to the well which supplies water to the Dalit colony in the village. Due to a power cut in the village, Mahantappa, a Dalit, went to draw water from the well as there was no water in the Dalit colony for two days. He could smell something different in the water and immediately informed the residents not to drink it. Tired of being ill-treated by the upper caste community members, the Dalit members finally informed the police of the incident.
The Logical Indian take
Dalits face rampant discrimination at different levels in the country. The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) reports a 44% increase in violence against Dalits, up from 32,712 in 2010 to 47,064 crimes in 2014. These incidents are directed towards reminding Dalits about their status in a caste-based social structure and ensuring that they remain there.
Where on the one hand we want to prove to ourselves and the world that we are progressive in thought, our actions betray this idea. We request the authorities to take strict action against the guilty and hope that the victim’s family finds justice.
The Logical Indian community condemns such atrocities perpetrated against the Dalits. The rule of law should reign supreme in a democracy; we request the government to act fearlessly against the perpetrators of such discrimination.