JAGATSINGHPUR: Two priests were booked on Tuesday for allegedly denying a Dalit girl entry into Sankareswar temple at Badgaon village within Balikuda police limits here.On Monday, father of the victim Basant Sethy had lodged an FIR with the police accusing priests Narahari Panda and Prahallad Panda as well as two other villagers of preventing his daughter Rojalini from entering the temple on December 11. Rojalini Sethy, who pursues engineering in a private college in Bhubaneswar, was refused entry into the temple by the priests as she belonged to Scheduled Caste community.
Following the incident, a group of Dalit youths, including girls led by former Sarpanch Hemant Sethy, had petitioned local police and the district administration to facilitate their entry into the temple. However, steps are yet to be taken in this regard.Though local Sarpanch Niharika Biswal convened a series of meetings to broker peace between the Dalit families and upper caste people, it yielded no result. The upper caste people said the age-old tradition of restricting entry of Dalits into the temple cannot be broken.
Sources said a meeting was held by the panchayat in the village to resolve the issue but the chief of upper caste people did not turn up.The victim’s father Basant said, “Though almost a week has passed since the incident, neither the elected representatives nor district officials have come forward to give us our basic social rights.” Nearly 20 Dalit families of Badgaon are restricted from entering the Shiva temple because of their caste. Balikuda IIC Sarbeswar Behera said police have registered a case against the two priests under Section 295 A of the IPC and Section 3(s) of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act. Further investigation is on, he added.Meanwhile, president of Zilla Dalit Sangh Sankar Das said the district administration and police have failed to give protection to the Dalit families and facilitate their entry into the temple. “If the accused priests are not arrested within seven days, the Sangh will intensify their stir,” he threatened.
Rojalini Sethy was refused entry into the temple by priests as she belonged to Scheduled Caste community
Upper caste people said the age-old tradition of restricting entry of Dalits into the temple cannot be broken
A meeting was held by the panchayat in the village to resolve the issue but the chief of upper caste people did not turn up