BARGARH :Dalit families of Harijanpada in Kathaumal village under Gaiselet block of Bargarh district on Monday staged a demonstration in front of the Collectorate for not being allowed inside Shiva temple in the village though they had put in their labour for its construction.
Protesting the discrimination, the Dalits staged the demonstration after their petition to district administration in this regard failed to evoke response.
Harijanpada is inhabited by about 60 Dalit families. Some time back, the villagers decided to construct Shiva temple on the embankment of village pond.
Accordingly, a meeting of Gram Sabha was convened and all the villagers were urged to cooperate and support for construction of the temple. The Dalit families rose to the occasion and contributed financially as per their mite besides putting in physical labour.
As the temple was nearing completion, another Gram Sabha was convened on June 14. When some Dalit families evinced interest to perform puja, they were abused and assaulted. They were even asked not to enter the temple.
Next day, some Dalit families lodged a complaint at Gaiselet police station. More trouble awaited the Dalits after filing the police complaint as they were restricted from entering village haat (market) .
With police refusing to act, they met District Collector Anjan Kumar Manik on July 4 seeking his intervention to resolve the issue. They also apprised Bijepur MLA Subal Sahu about the discrimination and threatened to stage an agitation if no action is taken by July 19.
With no response forthcoming from any quarters, the Dalit families travelled about 70 kms to Bargarh on Monday and staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate seeking justice.
They called off the dharna after Bargarh Sub-Collector Vincent Ekka assured them of visiting the village on July 23 and holding a meeting to resolve the issue.