Kolar district is set to take a big leap forward to eradicate untouchability. Enthused by the response for ‘Grihapravesha’ — a campaign that made Dalits’ entry into the houses of ‘upper’ caste people possible in several villages in the district in the last five months — the organisers have now devised a programme to ensure entry of Dalits into Muzrai Department temples.
Dalits comprise almost one-third the total population in the district. According to the District Social Welfare Department figures, of the 15.4 lakh population, 4,65,867 are Scheduled Castes and 78,875 are Scheduled Tribes in the district.
Started by Mulbagal-based Arivu Kendra, led by G. Shivappa, an assistant professor with Government College for Women in Kolar, the ‘Grihapravesha’ has expanded. A number of organisations, such as the Karnataka Dalit Sangharsh Samiti, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Karnataka Rakshana Vedike, Samata Sainik Dal, and other like-minded people have joined hands in this endeavour. As a result, a wider platform — Dalitara Grihapravesha Rajya Samiti — evolved to take the campaign across the State.
The committee has formulated a programme for the entry of Dalits into the temples, with ‘Namma Nade Asprashyate Mukta Bharatadede’ (Our march towards untouchability-free India), as the theme.
There are 1,336 temples under the Muzrai and Religious Endowment Department in Kolar district.
As a prelude, the committee had appealed to the district administration to create awareness about the provisions of a number of laws, including the Mysore Temples Act 1948 and the Civil Rights Protection Act 1955. The committee had lodged a complaint about Dalits being denied entry into these temples. Following this, Additional Deputy Commissioner R.S. Peddappaiah wrote to all the tahsildars in November to initiate action against those obstructing entry of Dalits into the temples. “This is a big morale booster for us,” Mr. Shivappa told The Hindu.
Armed with this and other legal provisions, the committee has decided to launch the campaign on December 21 at Kadenahalli in Mulbagal taluk. “Dalits, accompanied by a number of dignitaries, will be taken into the Chowdeshwari and Someshwaraswamy temples at Kadenahalli to mark the launch of the campaign,” Mr. Shivappa said.
Similar programmes will be conducted in all the 1,336 Muzrai temples in the district, he added. “Though Dalits can go to the temples in urban areas, the situation in the rural belt is pathetic. Untouchability is rampant with feudal ideas gaining the upper hand,” said Mr. Shivappa.
A seminar on eradication of untouchability will be conducted on the occasion. Deputy Commissioner K.V. Trilok Chandra will inaugurate it. Retired judge of the High Court of Karnataka H.N. Nagmohandas and the former Principal Secretary P.N. Srinivasachari, who actively supported the Grihapravesha campaign, will participate in the programme.