Monday, November 29, 1999

Were Dalits in temple just an act?

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Jait, May 15 -- Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) Buta Singh was in for a surprise when he visited Jait village. Dalits were happily singing devotional songs inside a temple that earlier didn't even allow them to enter. Singh was on a fact-finding mission to Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan's native village after HT published a report titled 'Temple apartheid at Shivraj village' on May 6. The report said Dalits were not allowed entry into the three temples at the village in Sehore district, 100 km from Bhopal. The turnaround seems to have happened after administrative and police officers visited the village on Friday to enforce "law and order" in preparation for Singh's visit. Vaijantibai, who lives opposite the CM's ancestral house in Jait and had earlier complained of discrimination, was sitting along with the team of bhajan singers when Singh arrived. He was accompanied by member of National Human Rights Commission Mahendra Boudh. Vaijantibai promptly retracted her statement when Singh spoke to her. "I have no problem here. No one stops us from entering the temples," she told Singh, and maintained her stand despite repeated questions by Singh and Boudh.

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