Priest questions Dalit family’s entry into temple in Hassan

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A Dalit family was questioned for entering a temple at Gonisomanahalli near Halebeedu in the Hassan district of Karnataka on April 23, when the birth anniversary of Basavanna, who led an anti-caste movement in the 12th Century, was celebrated.

Rudresh, the priest of Hulikal Veerabhadreshwara temple, questioned Santhosh G.J., his wife Radhamani and their eight-year-old son for entering the temple. According to Santhosh, the priest wanted to know if the family knew that entering the temple is not good for them.

“We visited the temple as it was Basava Jayanthi. The priest did offer prayers on our behalf. After having the darshana of the god, we sat on the temple premises. Someone from the village went inside the temple and informed the priest that we are Dalits. Then, the priest came out to question us,” Mr. Santhosh told The Hindu on April 24.

According to Mr. Santhosh, the priest asked if Scheduled Caste people were on the premises. “As we turned to him, he asked — did we not know that entering the temple would harm us? We would suffer because we entered the temple, he warned. We all felt bad. Our eight-year-old son is in shock,” he said.

Mr. Santhosh and Ms. Radhamani objected to being questioned by the priest. They wanted to know if there is any board telling Dalits not to enter the temple. “If they had put up a board restricting Dalits from entering the temple, we would not have bothered to enter,” he said.

Mr. Santhosh told The Hindu that he would decide today on filing a complaint with the police.

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