In a historical positive step, the Dalit residents of Maregaon in Narsinghpur district, who had been facing social boycott from upper caste fellow villagers for several months now, were allowed access to the village temples.
The decision was ceremoniously implemented on Wednesday in Maregaon in presence of representatives of district administration and NGOs who played a crucial role in rapprochement between the Dalits and other villagers.
Maregaon Dalit villagers had been complaining of social boycott since March this year after they refused to continue with their traditional vocation of skinning carcasses. Not only were the villagers not allowed to take services from village common facilities like grocery shops, barbers and water from wells, they were also not allowed in the village temple and children were subjected to discrimination in the school, it was alleged.
HT did a series of stories on the issue during last few months. NGOs Rashtriya Secular Manch, Nagrik Adhikar Manch, Vikas Samvad and others had been working with the district administration and the villagers for a rapprochement. In a first step, the villagers decided to open up the temples to everyone in the village.
"It was decided that only the priest would be allowed in sanctum sanctorum, while the entire other parts of the temple campuses would be open to all," LS Hardenia of Rashtriya Secular Manch, who was present when the ceremony to open temple to all was held on Wednesday at Maregaon, told HT.
SDM PN Yadav, local tehsildar, police station in-charge, Deepak Bhatt of Secular Manch and Arvind of Vikas Samvad were also present.