Five held for imposing fine on Dalit family for ‘touching’ village deity in Karnataka

Five held for imposing fine on Dalit family for ‘touching’ village deity in Karnataka

Police have arrested five people for imposing a fine of 60,000 on a Dalit boy’s family for touching idol of a village deity in Kolar district, police said on Friday.

Maasti police identified the people arrested on Thursday as Narayana Swamy, Ramesh R, Chalapathi, Mohan Rao and Chinnanaiah.

According to police, during a village fair on September 18, a 15-year-old boy had touched the village Goddess Bhootamma’s idol while it was being taken out on a procession. A day later, a former gram panchayat vice-president’s husband identified as Venkateshappa and gram panchayat member Narayana Swamy among others summoned the boy’s mother Shobha and reportedly asked her to pay 60,000 as her son had “defiled the deity”.

The family approached Dalit welfare organisation Ambedkar Seva Samithi state unit head KM Sandesh. The organisation took the family to Maasti police station and lodged a complaint. The boy’s mother Shobha, in her complaint to police, said the holy stick fell down during the procession and her son Chethan lifted it and handed it over to the leaders.

“Narayana Swamy, Venkateshappa and another accused Ramesh, who is a temple committee member thrashed my son. They directed us to clean the temple and paint it as my son defiled its sanctity. They also warned that our family would be boycotted if the 60,000 fine amount was not paid before October 1. They threatened that they will not spare us,” the complaint stated.

On Wednesday, Kolar police booked a suo moto case against the gram panchayat members and village elders under the provisions of the Protection of Civil Rights Act. “We have lodged a complaint and the eight men booked in the case. We have also held a peace meeting in the village to ensure law and order,” said a senior police officer, who did not want to be named.

In a similar incident, on May 30, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC were imposed in two villages in Yadigir district after a Dalit family entered a temple with police protection.

Eight members of the Dalit family from Shorapur taluk of Yadgir had entered the Anjaneya temple in Amalihal village in Hunsagi taluk of the district and performed the tonsuring ceremony for their child, despite the opposition from the upper castes.

Last year on September 21, a Dalit family was fined 25,000 after a two-year-old ran into a temple in Miyapur village. Upper caste members sought the money for purification rituals, but the district administration intervened and warned them.

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