Sigaranahalli, just 2-km away from Haradanahalli, the native of former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda was in news for banning entry of dalits into a local temple and a community hall that was built from the government funds.
On August 31, when members of Sri Basaveshwara Stree Shakti Sangha, a self-help group, consisting of 9 Vokkaliga community and four from Dalit families entered the temple to offer prayers to the deity, One ‘Devaraja’, who claims to be from Vokkaliga community, raised his objection to the entry of Dalit members into the temple.
“He said SCs are not allowed in the temple. I questioned him. He attempted to beat one of us,” said Thayamma, a former Hariharpur Gram Panchayat member, when The Hindu reporter visited the village. She said the ‘upper caste’ people decided at a panchayat to impose a fine of Rs.1000 the next day on the self-help group and to use it for “purification” of the temple.
Recalling that the practice of “untouchability” is still prevalent in the village, Thayamma said they were prohibited from entering even a local community hall which was built by the Hassan Zilla Panchayat. The hall was built with funds, portion of it contributed by former PM Deve Gowda, that too from his MP Local Area Development Fund (government).
Later, the community hall was re-named Vokkaliga Bhavan and taken over by the upper castes barring entry of Dalits or for any use by other people. Thayamma said she herself was denied when she wanted to hold her daughter’s marriage there in 2011.
In another incident last year, a teenage boy was thrashed and dragged out from the dining place when he was having food after attending the reception in the community hall. His mistake? He was born a Dalit and the community hall is now renamed “Vokkaliga Bhavan” as government blinked its forcible encroachment by the majority upper caste Vokkaligas.
“The hall was built using government funds. We Dalits do not have an alternative place to hold our programmes. We need the right to enter community hall,” says Padmamma, another Dalit woman.
When The Hindu reporter questioned N.R. Purushottam, the district social welfare officer, he feigned ignorance. “I will get details from the people concerned and take appropriate action,” said the officer in his answer.
— The Hindu (@the_hindu) September 8, 2015