Priest arrested for stopping Dalit from entering temple gets bail, warm welcome

A video of Shankar Pujari’s welcome went viral on social media and showed women touching his feet as he waved

Bhopal: Residents of Temla in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone took out a procession to welcome priest Shankar Pujari after he was released on bail on Monday days after he was arrested for preventing a 31-year-old Dalit woman from entering a temple on March 1. A video of Pujari’s welcome went viral on social media and showed women touching his feet as he waved.Pujari and two women were booked under the Indian Penal Code’s Section 505 (2), which relates to creating or promoting enmity, hatred, or ill will and the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for preventing Pooja Khande, the Dalit woman, from entering the temple.Khande refused to talk on this issue but her relative Rakesh Khande said their family was pressurised to hush up but they mustered courage and reported the matter. “…this warm welcome has hurt our sentiments.”Drict police superintendent Siddharth Chaudhary said they have deployed 12 police personnel near the house of the Khandes. “The complainant is not under any fear. I have asked the local police station to inquire about the welcome of the priest to check whether they used any discriminatory words and abusive language or not. Action will be taken as per the inquiry report.”Dalit rights activ Manoj Parmar said they have for long been facing atrocities and insults. “When we talk about our rights, we are harassed both the adminration and the upper caste community. Pooja, who was fighting for her rights and was vocal on the first day of the incident, is now not ready to even talk because of fear.”Jai Adiwasi Yuva Sangathan convener Anand Rai said welcoming the priest and creating noise in the village, the villagers wanted to give the message that nothing is going to change. “They have no regret. The scheduled caste community members in the village are afraid of them.”


She is a senior reporter based at Bhopal. She covers higher education, social issues, youth affairs, woman and child development related issues, sports and business & industries.
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