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BJP to launch stir for Dalits' temple entry

BJP to launch stir for Dalits' temple entry

Author: Alok Chamaria
Publication: The Times of India
Date: October 13, 2003
URL: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/cms.dll/html/uncomp/articleshow?msid=230291

The BJP will conduct a survey of such temples and other religious places in the state where Dalits are denied entry for offering prayers or prasad. And after identifying such temples and other religious places, an agitation will be launched for Dalits' entry into them.
An announcement to this effect was made by leader of the opposition in the state assembly Sushil Kumar Modi on Sunday at Bahera village of Kaimur district, where a Dalit was shot dead when he tried to offer prayers and prasad to the goddess during the Durga Puja on October 4, defying the long-standing ban imposed by upper castes.
Modi promised that without caring for the political implications of his decision, he would himself lead the agitation for Dalits' entry into the religious places. He called upon all the political parties to join the fight against such social evils.
The BJP leader lauded The Times of India for breaking the news of the incident. He criticised other mediapersons in Kaimur for "failing to highlight the incident". He urged mediapersons to see to it that the case is not hushed up by the vested interests.
He criticised the RJD-led government, alleging that while the "de facto chief minister" Laloo Prasad Yadav claims that Dalits and backwards in the state have been given respect during his 13-year rule, atrocities on Dalits have been increasing day by day. He also criticised the local administration for its "partiality" in the whole episode.
He claimed that the DM and SP of Kaimur visited the spot nine days after the incident when the matter was raised before the visiting chairman of the SC-ST Commission in Patna. Modi said the chairman of the commission assured him that he would send a fact-finding team to Bahera. He demanded setting up of a police picket in the village.
He threatened to launch an agitation if the accused are not arrested within a week. He said he would write to the Bihar DGP and his Jharkhand counterpart for action against the three named accused police personnel, adding that the accused police personnel are trying to show that they were on duty at their respective place of posting on that day.
Modi shared the dais with the leaders of CPI(M-L), CPM and BSP, who jointly organised a protest rally in the village on Sunday.
In what appears to be a damage control exercise, Kaimur's DM Mihir Kumar Singh and SP G S Gangwar visited the village nine days after the incident. They went into the temple of Lord Shiv with the Dalits of the village and performed hawan and puja.
The DM also met the family members of the slain Dalit and announced that the family would be given Rs 2 lakh. Sources said the DM and SP were forced to visit the village when the SC-ST Commission chairman, on the representation of opposition leaders, asked chief minister Rabri Devi about the incident.
After reaching the village, the DM persuaded the upper caste people to accompany them on the occasion of Dalits' entry into the temple.

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