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Rajasthan: Dalits in Jhalawar’s Mundla Allege Donations for Ram Temple Rituals ‘Returned’ Citing ‘Impurity’

Alleging “bias and discrimination”, the villagers have filed a complaint with the Jhalawar District Collector, says report.
Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Temple under construction, ahead of the consecration ceremony at the temple, in AyodhyaCredit: PTI Photo

Shri Ram Janmbhoomi Temple under construction, ahead of the consecration ceremony at the temple, in Ayodhya. Image Courtesy: PTI

New Delhi: Amid the feverish news overdrive to catch eyeballs ahead of the Ram Temple “Pran Pratishtha” on January 22, marginalised voices are straining to be heard. For instance, recently, people belonging to the dalit community in a village in Rajasthan’s Jhalawar district alleged that funds donated by them for the temple festivities were returned by some dominant caste persons.

According to a report published recently in The Mooknayak, a website that reports on social justice issues, villagers of Mundla under the Khanpur police station, mainly from the marginalised dalit community, said they were approached to donate funds for Ram Temple festivities, such as kalash yatras, prasad distribution etc by some members of the dominant caste.

However, the donated funds were returned later, with some members of the dalit community stating that they were told that “the money from Dalits would not be accepted for the temple rituals, and the prasad made with their donations would be considered impure.”

The report said that enraged members of the dalit community lodged a complaint with the Jhalawar district administration on January 11, accusing “bias and discrimination.

The copy of the complaint to the District Collector, Jhalawar, published in The Mooknayak, the villagers, belonging to the Meghwal, Bairwa, Dhobi and Mehar communities, alleged that some leading lights of the Nagar Samaj had approached them for funds for the Ram Temple event in Ayodhya. They claimed they donated whatever they could as per their paying capacity.

The complaint letter, says on January 9, at 9 p.m “these people” (the complaint names a few persons) came to the Scheduled Caste-dominated basti, called them out of their homes, and told them that money collected from ‘dhobis and chamars” cannot be used for bhog (sacred offerings) to the deity, and that it would be considered “impure”. Hence, they said they were returning the money that the marginalised communities had offered.

The Mooknayak report quoted one Mukesh Meghwal, a resident of the village, who confirmed the incident. He also claimed that the police were now pressuring them to withdraw the complaint, alleging that some officers were making rounds of their village in this regard and were “not registering a formal case”.

Meghwal also claimed that the atmosphere in the village was “tense’ and “if the police fail to file a case, the Dalit community plans to stage a demonstration at the Jhalawar district headquarters on Monday.”

The Mooknayak said when they approached the police to confirm the allegations, “Ramkishan Godara, SHO, Khanpur Police Station… said that the accusations of forcing for complaint withdrawal are baseless. He assured that the Dy.SP himself visited the village to speak with impartial witnesses. The administration aims to maintain public trust, and a fair investigation into the entire matter will be conducted by the police."

As per the National Crime Records Bureau’s data for 2022, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were ranked among the top five states with the highest occurrences of crimes and atrocities against SC and ST communities consistently in the last few years.

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