Karnataka, Dec. 5 For Pradeep, a Dalit from Hirekadalur in Hassan taluk, his marriage on Sunday should have been a happy occasion. But an incident on the eve of his wedding has left him feeling bitter.
That was the day his relatives were allegedly attacked by ‘upper’ caste people for fetching water from a public tank and entering a temple. “Our people were attacked in the presence of the police,” said Pradeep, who works in a private firm in Bengaluru.
His relatives were allegedly assaulted when they fetched water, necessary for rituals as part of the marriage, from a public tank next to Eshwara temple on December 1. The public tank was meant for cattle and built at a cost of ₹42,000 under MNREGA.
Hirekadaluru, in Honnavara Gram Panchayat, is a village of over 500 houses. Of them, only 30 belong to Dalits (Adi Karnataka), while the rest belong to the Vokkaliga community.
“Upper caste people scolded our women for fetching water from the tank. We informed the police as we did not want any further incident on the day of the marriage. But later, in the presence of the police, they attacked us as we visited the temple to offer prayers,” said Manjunath, Pradeep’s brother.
“Shockingly, one person from the ‘upper’ caste took over the microphone in the temple and gave a call to the people of his community to assemble in large numbers to oppose Dalits entering the temple,” said Manjunath.
The police rushed to the village and brought the situation under control. The police have been camping in the village since then, and senior police officers visited the spot. Kiran H.B, who was injured in the incident, has filed a complaint against 14 people, including two women.
An FIR has been registered under the relevant sections of SC,ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, besides other sections of the Indian Penal Code. No one has been arrested yet.
Suresh, a resident of the village, whose mother and brother are among the accused, said, “We have been in a cordial relationship with Dalits in the village. They (Dalits) had never fetched water from the tank located next to the temple.
Similarly, they had never entered the temple. Some people in our community got angry when they broke the system followed all these years.”
The Dalits said they are facing social boycott after the incident. Shopkeepers have refused to sell any items to them, they alleged.
Hassan tahsildar R.B. Shivashankarappa visited the village on Tuesday and spoke to the villagers. The district administration will be holding a peace meeting in the village on Wednesday.