Dalits told to keep distance from temple

ANAND: Dalits in Bamroli village of Anand's Petlad taluka have been banned from entering the village temple to goddess Khodiyar.

The decision was taken by the village panchayat after a dalit woman, Meena Shenva, requested the village priest to allow her into the temple to offer prayers on Vad Savitri on June 26. After being turned away, Shenva approached 50 of her village dalit community members from and raised the issue with them.

A few days later, the village panchayat also resolved that dalits not be allowed to enter the temple and that offer prayers through a small opening on a wall 100 metres away from the main temple entrance. This shocked Shenva. The temple priest insisted that this was a tradition at temple. After few days the police registered an FIR against the temple priest Rajnikant Kiritbhai and the panchayat at the Mahelva police station. Meena now fears that she will be pressurized to withdraw the case.

Deputy superintendent of police, Anand, Rajendra Asari, told TOI: "It's true. We had arrested the accused but they are out on bail. Meanwhile district authorities too have been informed of the incident and asked to follow up. The case is now in court and sub-judice. I will not be able to comment any further."

"The wall, which is 100 metres away from the temple, had a small indent in which dalits were supposed to make their offerings to the goddess. We hope Meena's efforts will give voice to the problems of dalits who live in surrounding areas of Bamroli and want to pray at the temple," says Meena's brother, Amrut Shenva.

Amrut Shenva, who lives in nearby Simrada village added, "I hope the police action bears fruit. We also fear for Meena who took this bold step. There will be lot of pressure on her to withdraw the case."

Dalits get entry into temple in Anand village

Anand: A day after TOI published a report about dalits being prevented from entering a temple, the state government authorities swung into action on Tuesday.

Social welfare officer of Anand, Nayna Shrimali along with Petlad police officials rushed to Bamroli village and directed the sarpanch not to stop dalits from entering the temple of goddess Khodiyar.

The officials also met the dalit families and took them inside the temple. "I have given my contact number to the families and asked them to get in touch with me if they have any complaint," Shrimali said.

The villagers had asked the dalits to keep a distance of 100 metres from the temple. The ex-sarpanch had asked them to worship from a small indent in the wall of the temple. A few days back, two persons were arrested after the dalits lodged a complaint about atrocity. They were released on bail later.

Anand superintendent of police Rajendra Asari told TOI: "Some villagers met me today and said that that dalits are always allowed to enter the temple. They are free to worship in the temple whenever they want."