Navsarjan efforts bear fruit: Dalits welcomed into temple
Under the “Gujarat model” of development, there is reason why Dalits being allowed entry into a public temple in a village dominated by high caste persons makes news. This is what happened in Kherpur village, barely 30 kiometres from the Gujarat capital, Gandhinagar. Led by Dalit rights NGO Navsarjan Trust chief Manjula Pradeep, the Dalits were not just welcomed in the village but even “offered” water personally by the temple priest, who had once opposed their entry. This happened in May second week, when Dalits of Kherpur in Kadi taluka of Mehsana district of North Gujarat. It is the same village which saw high caste persons fatally attacking Dalit men, women and children as a “punishment” for forcing their way into the temple in 2008.
Indeed, it took full five years for them to enter the temple without fear. In fact, not only were they allowed in, the priests of private temples belonging to non-Dalit communities – Patels, Rabaris, Prajapatis, Thakores and Devipujaks – sent a message Dalits were welcome in their temples, too. “A long and arduous struggle tells the saga of how this happened”, said Bharat S Parmar, a Navsarjan activist who was the chief campaigner for temple entry.