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A two-year-old innocently toddled into a temple in a Karnataka village, and his Dalit family ended up paying the price, literally! The family was fined Rs 25,000 after their two-year-old child entered a temple in the village. According to news reports, Chandru, the father of the toddler, and his family are Dalits, and are not allowed in the Anjaneya Temple in Miyapur of Koppal. It was on September 4, that the child entered the temple when his family had gone there to offer prayers for his birthday.
After the child ran inside the temple premises the temple priest and locals objected to this, and then eventually imposed a fine on the family on September 11, stated news reports.The media reported that locals belonging to the so called ‘upper caste’ demanded money from the child’s family for ‘purification’ rituals at the temple they claimed had been defiled.
Speaking to mediapersons, Chandru said, “It was my son’s birthday and we wanted to offer our prayers at the Anjaneya temple in front of our house. It started raining then and my son entered the temple. That is all that happened.” After the incident and the ‘fine’ came to light, members of the Channadasar community to which Chandru belongs, held protests and approached the police, reported India Today. However, Chandru’s family have reportedly refused to lodge a police complaint to avoid disrupting the harmony of the village. Nevertheless the district administration intervened, resolved the issue and warned them.
More than 10 days after the Dalit family was ‘fined’ Rs 25,000, the Kushtagi police have registered a case under the SC/ST prevention of atrocities Act on Wednesday and arrested five people of Miyapur village, reported The Times of India. Calling the penalty “inhumane and shameful”, Koppal deputy commissioner Suralkar Vikas Kishor urged the people to report incidents of untouchability without delay.
The TOI reported that DC Kishor, SP T Sreedhara and other officials visited Miyapur on Wednesday and convened a meeting of villagers. “It is not the temple that is dirty after the entry of the Dalit boy but our mind that is dirty,” the DC told villa villagers reminding them that Citizens have equal responsibility, to report such hate crimes. The DC told the media that the boy’s father had approached police on September 13 but refused to register a case. “We request victims to come forward and come forward and register a case, barring which we will register cases suo motu,” he said. Those arrested in the case have been identified as: Karakappa Pujari, Hanumagouda, Gavisiddappa Myageri, Virupakshagouda Myageri and Sharanagouda.
This is yet another example of biases and prejudices like looking down on one’s appearance, their mannerisms, how one chooses to pray, has the capacity to consume us within a society. Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) Secretary and human rights defender Teesta Setalvad explains how these biases “stereotyping, insensitive remarks, fear of differences, non-inclusive language, micro aggressions justifying biases by seeking out like-minded people, that takes shape in the form of hate.” This prejudiced attitude is the first stage in the Pyramid Of Hate’. The next stage is acts of prejudice which involves name calling, social exclusion, targeting particular sections of the society by telling belittling jokes. The third stage is discrimination, where certain communities are subject to harassment, bullying, exclusion in housing, employment, education .