Uttarakhand’s Chakrata region bristled with tension on Tuesday amid fears of a possible attempt by upper caste villagers to purify a temple visited by Dalit activists and a BJP parliamentarian leading to violence in the Himalayan state last week.
Rajya Sabha member Tarun Vijay and Dalit activist Daulat Kunwar were injured in stone pelting, allegedly by upper caste villagers outside the Silgur Devta temple in Punah village, around 180 km from state capital Dehradun on May 20.
Dalit activists said the entry into the Silgur Devta temple was the start of a campaign against a centuries-old caste bias that forbids them from entering and worshipping at 349 temples of the hill state’s Jaunsar-Bhabar region.
Revered as the holiest land for Hindus, the Himalayan state is home to thousands of temples but most of them are off-limits for people from the lower strata of the social order.
Sources said that upper caste villagers were planning to carry out a ritual “cleansing” of the Silgur Devta temple which they say have become impure after the entry of the Dalit activists.
Police, however, said they were determined to foil any such move.
“Police personnel are deployed in the village where the temple is located. We will not allow anyone to add poison to the air,” said Sadanand Date, Dehradun senior superintendent of police (SSP).
The state government has already ordered two probes -- one by CB-CID (state’s investigation wing) and other under the commissioner of Garhwal region.
On Monday, home minister Pritam Singh and forest minister Dinesh Agarwal visited the village on Monday. Singh represents the Chakrata area.
People’s representatives and locals are divided over the issue of Dalit entry into the temple with some questioning Tarun Vijay for not taking locals into the confidence before leading the Dalits into temple.
The injured MP is admitted in a hospital in Dehradun. After chief minister Harish Rawat and governor KK Paul, two Congress rebel leaders -- now in BJP – Vijay Bahuguna and Harak Singh also called on parliamentarian.