In Gujarat, even Dalit Cops are not spared, driven out of temple, refused food

RAJKOT: A sign of how entrenched is caste in the western Indian state of Gujarat, Times of Indiareported how a Dalit lok rakshak police constable has lodged a complaint against the priest and two cooks of a temple in Devbhoomi Dwarka district after they allegedly drove him out of the temple because of his caste, Constable Jayesh Khara, 29, who serves Bhanwad police station in Jamjodhpur taluka, has now lodged a complaint against the priest and two cooks of a temple in Devbhoomi Dwarka district. They allegedly drove him out of the temple because of his caste.

File photo of Jayesh khara

In his complaint, Khara has named Hansgiri Bapu, the priest of Gopnath Mahadev temple, head cook Babu Patel and his assistant Sanjay, as accused. Khara says in his complaint that he had gone to fetch tiffin from the temple kitchen for his colleague on Saturday night when Patel inquired about his caste. When Khara responded saying that he was a Dalit, Patel and Sanjay allegedly drove him out and asked him to wait outside the temple.

In his complaint lodged with Jamjodhpur police station, Khara said he then approached Hansgiri Bapu with his complaint. However, the priest allegedly backed Patel and Sanjay and told him not to overrule them. According to the constable, Bapu told him that as a Dalit, his entry was banned in temple premises and that sadhus cannot eat the food touched by him. He was then reportedly told to wait outside the premises for the tiffin.

“When I asked them, why did they discriminate between upper and lower castes and everyone was supposed to be equal inside the temple, Patel and Sanjay told me that it was the rule of the temple,” he stated in the complaint.

There was a heated verbal duel between him and the priest when Khara retorted saying that they should be upfront and put up a board banning entry of Dalits into the temple. Khara told police that enraged Hansgiri Bapu dared him to lodge a complaint after the tiff.  It was at this stage that Khara then informed the Devbhoomi Dwarka control room and lodged a complaint with Jamjodhpur police station on Sunday night.  J S Chawda, deputy superintendent of police, ST/CS Cell, Jamnagar, told TOI: “We visited the temple to gather evidence of the alleged incident. At present, we are in the process of recording statements of the eye-witnesses.”

The wireless control room on Gop Dungar relays messages to Devbhoomi Dwarka and Jamnagar district police control rooms. One constable each from both districts are deployed for a week at this control room. Moti Gop village is three km away from Gop Dungar. As there is no human habitation on the hill, except for Gopnath Mahadev Temple, the constables deployed at the control room have to rely on the temple for meals. While one constable stays at the control room, the other goes to the temple to eat and fetch the tiffin for his colleague.

“I have served at the control room on Gop Dungar several times in the past and eaten at the temple kitchen. This was for the first time, I was asked about my caste and humiliated, however,” said Khara.



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