BHOPAL: A confrontation involving dominant OBCs and a major Scheduled Caste (SC) community over the alleged blocking of Dalit devotees from offering prayers at Shiva temples took place in at least three villages of Khargone and Khandwa districts of southwest Madhya Pradesh on Mahashivratri (Saturday).
Three FIRs were lodged in two such incidents in Khargone district, while the adjoining Khandwa incident was resolved amicably following police intervention.
In Chhapara village of Sanawad area in Khargone district, an argument about offering prayers at a temple on Mahashivratri flared up with heavy stone-pelting between the OBCs (Marathas, Patels and Gurjars) and SC Balai community, resulting in injuries to at least 14 people.
It all started with a dispute between two groups that took place three days back, when the OBC groups complained to the police about the felling of a Banyan tree by Dalits. The Dalits want to build a temple of Dr BR Ambedkar on that land, close to the temple whereas the OBC groups allegedly don’t allow the Dalits to offer prayers.
The police had defused the crisis three days back with both sides, but on Mahashivratri they again came face-to-face over the alleged stopping of Dalit girls from offering prayers at the temple built by the three OBC communities.
According to sub-divisional officer police (SDOP) Vinod Dixit, separate FIRs have been lodged. While the SC complainant Premlal named 17 persons in the complaint (based on which FIR has been lodged under IPC Sections and SC/ST Atrocities Act), the other side’s complainant Ravindra Rao Maratha has named 33 persons. In the adjoining Kasrawad area of the same Khargone district, the police registered a complaint against four women and a man (from OBC and general category) on the complaint of the Balai caste (comes under the SC category) women. Further, they alleged that their children, including girls, were assaulted by dominant caste men and women during Mahashivratri prayers.
However, the alleged stopping of Dalits from offering prayers at the temple, was nowhere mentioned in the FIR lodged on the complaint of the SC category woman Manju Bai Kanade. In the neighbouring Khandwa district’s Bailwadi village, however, timely police intervention defused the situation caused by similar allegations.
In all these incidents, young activists of the Bhim Army and tribal outfit Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) were seen on the ground, taking up the cause of Dalits and putting pressure on cops to lodge cases.
It was on February 12 only that these two outfits had occupied the centre stage of the mega rally in Bhopal, where Bhim Army head Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan had announced a third front of SC, ST, OBC and minority groups to take on the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress in the year-end MP Assembly polls.