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Chief secretary, DGP to present before NCSC on Jul 18

Bhubaneswar: The state government on Monday said it would present facts on the steps taken to eliminate the alleged caste discrimination in the state before the National Commission for Scheduled Caste (NCSC) on July 18, official sources said.

"We have received a letter from the NCSC and asked to place facts on the steps taken to eliminate the caste based discrimination in the state," chief secretary B K Patnaik told reporters here.

Patnaik and the state DGP Manmohan Praharaj had been summoned by the NCSC to explain an incident relating to ban on the entry of Dalits into a Kali temple at Ranapada village under Brahmagiri police station area in Puri district.

NCSC chairman P L Punia had himself visited the Kali temple at Ranapada village on June 25 to ascertain facts behind the alleged caste discrimination.

Though Punia defied the ban and entered into the temple premises, he was surprised to find that the main temple was closed before his arrival at the village. The priests had deliberately closed the main door before the sun set in order to prevent his entry, Punia had alleged.

"Dalits are not allowed into the temple. They can go up to a certain point in the temple and asked to offer prayer from a distance," Punia had said adding that about 80 dalit families had been facing socio-economic boycott by upper caste people after three Dalit girls entered into the temple last year.

Punia had also met the three girls who dared to defy the age-old ban on the Dalits entry into the temple.

Though one upper caste person was arrested in connection with last year`s incident, the state government had done nothing to remove socio-economic boycott on the Dalit families who mostly earn their livelihood working as share croppers, Punia said.

The Dalits were not being allowed to cultivate land as share croppers, Punia said.

Asked on the state government`s stand on the Dalit discrimination, the chief secretary said, "We will place facts before the commission."

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