Temple doors shut for lower castes in Uttarakhand’s Jaunsar: ST leader
People from lower castes are still not allowed to enter temples in Jaunsar, 170 km from Dehradun, claimed scheduled tribe (ST) leader Daulat Kunwar who lives in Chakrata block.
The Uttarakhand high court ruled on Thursday that all persons, irrespective of their caste, be permitted to enter any temple in the state without any discrimination. The court also said high caste priests cannot refuse to perform religious rituals for lower caste people at religious places/temples.
“The (Dehradun) district administration in 2016 passed a similar order, but to no avail. The (upper-lower caste) divide still persists in the region. And people of lower castes are still not allowed to enter the temples,” Kunwar said. There are 373 temples in the area.
In 2016, a mob threw stones at former Rajya Sabha MP Tarun Vijay who visited Punah temple (180 km from Dehradun) with Kunwar. Vijay and Kunwar reportedly touched the ‘Dev Doli’, which is not allowed to lower caste people.
The incident triggered an uproar in the state, with the district administration taking charge of the area to avoid communal tension. Signboards were sent to the area mentioning that ‘the temple allows women and people of all castes’.
Kunwar claimed that the signboards were an eyewash. “Of 373 temples in the area, not even one temple has put up a signboard sent by the administration,” he said.
Some priests in the area denied the allegation. Sanjay Joshi, a priest from Jaunsar, said, “There is absolutely no divide here. People of all castes and races are allowed into our temples. The judgment is welcome and we stand by it.”
Similar divide is also reported in Haridwar, an abode of temples and priests. The PIL petitioner belonged to the district.
Haridwar priests deny caste divide in the district. Ganga Sabha only does not allow non-Hindu pilgrims into Har Ki Pauri, they said. The sabha manages affairs of Har Ki Pauri, the famous ghat of the Ganga in Haridwar.
Pandit Avikshit Raman, a priest from Haridwar, said, “Prohibition of entry by dalits may be there in a few temples of the state. But there’s no such restriction for them in Ganga ghats.”
(With inputs from Sandeep Rawat in Haridwar)