A Dalit man was asked to pay Rs 50,101 as fine for opposing against the temple authorities that refused to take the annual Dasara procession pass through his locality where members of the Adi Karnataka (a sub-caste) community live. The shocking incident of Dalit discrimination happened at Chamrajnagar district in the Kerala-Karnataka border.
Ningaraju, a Dalit Sangharsh Samiti member and a farmer, pointed out this discriminatory act in the meeting between village panchayat members and Tahsildar. He explained that the temple under the Muzrai department belongs to everyone.
Every year during the Dasara celebration, a procession of goddess Chamundeswari takes place on the day of Vijayadashami in the village called Yelandur in the district of Chamundeswari. Two Dalit-majority lanes are traditionally skipped, and the demand for the procession to be carried through these lanes led to the incident. The village panchayat members had denied the demand for several years, stating it will be an ire to the century-old tradition.
The next day, the complaint filed by Ningaraju in this regard was handed over to the Tehsildar by his friend Shankar Murthy. And another fine of 10,101 rupees was imposed against him for taking the letter with the request to the Tehsildar.
Two Dalit daily wage workers' suggestions at a meeting held to discuss the organisation of the procession of goddess Chamundeshwari on the day of Dussera, angered the village panchayat members, which simultaneously resulted in the imposition of the fine. Threatened to be barred from working in the village, they forcefully paid the amount by selling their wives' jewellery.
" In the village of Honnur, 80% of the people are Dalits and the rest 20% are from other castes. 22 Dalit families are allowed to travel using only the main road and are restricted from mingling with the rest of the castes in the village", says Ningaraju. He further added that the supplies in shops are not given to Dalits directly but are kept in a different place and hotels, food is served to these 22 families on used and thrown plates.
Ningaraju asks why they don't get equal treatment in the temples that are under the Government Muzrai department." We wanted to save at least our kids from this discrimination and that is why we raised our voice", adds Ningaraju.
However soon after the village Tehsildar was apprised of the situation, another meeting of the villagers was convened and he further demanded to return the money to Ningaraju.
(Reported by Hamna Naseer)