Dalits live in fear of ostracisation in Odisha
JAGATSINGHPUR: All attempts to remove the scourge of casteism from society come to naught when the vulnerable are forced to live in fear. One such incident has been reported from the district where around 22 Dalit families of Repurpatana village under Tirtol police limits are living in fear of ostracisation by people belonging to upper caste.
The Dalit families comprising 200 members were recently restricted from entering the Lord Shiva temple in the village by some upper caste people. Police inaction has prompted the Dalits to knock the doors of the State Human Rights Commission.
Sources said the Muketeswar Mahadev temple was established in the village on February 5 this year. As per the decision of the village committee, all villagers, including Dalits, had paid `1,500 for performing rituals at the temple.
However, the Dalit families were prohibited from performing Kalasi Puja and other rituals. A few Dalit women tried to offer prayers at the temple but some people belonging to upper caste, including one Khetrabasi Swain, misbehaved with them. The Dalits were also threatened and told not to enter the temple.
Bhanj Kishore Sethy, a Dalit leader, said the upper caste people do not allow the Dalits to perform rituals at the temple. “When some of our women objected to this, they were abused by the upper caste people,” he said.
The Dalits’ opposition to the directive was met with threats of ostracisation. Sethy said he had lodged an FIR in Tirtol police station on February 13 but no case has been registered by the police yet. He said police are trying to suppress the matter under the influence of some upper caste leaders. The Dalits’ agony does not end here. On the advice of local police, the villagers have now decided to construct a separate gate at the temple for the Dalit families.
Another Dalit leader, Debendra Kumar Mallick, said caste-centric discrimination or untouchability was banned in India in 1955, but centuries-old feudal attitudes persist in many parts of this district and Dalits still face prejudice in every sector.
Meanwhile, Phule Ambedkar Bikash Parishad working president Manoj Patra has sought the intervention district Collector, SP, State Human Rights Commission and authorities of SC and ST department to ensure that the Dalits of Repurpatana village are given justice.
Source : TheNewIndianExpress