Dalits prevented from performing rituals in temple

Kendrapara: A dispute over stopping dalit devotees from performing some religious rituals in a Shiva temple of a remote village in Kendrapara district has triggered an unsavoury conflict. Upper caste residents allegedly stopped dalit devotees from entering the sanctum sanctorum for pouring holy water on the deity, fuelling tension at Gopei village, on Monday.

"A few upper caste devotees had stopped some devotees belonging to lower caste from offering puja. It led to resentment among the Dalits. It was fallout of past dispute between a section of people" Kendrapara sub divisional police officer Nrusingha Charan Swain said. A case under sections of the Prevention of Atrocity against Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act was registered, he said.

The village, under Karilopatana gram panchayat, is home to about 500 residents. While it is predominantly inhabited by upper caste people, about 100 Dalits reside in the village. The Dalits registered their protest against the discrimination by bringing the matter to the notice of civil and police administration. "The differences have been amicably settled", official sources said.

Rituals and puja at the temple resumed after a compromise between the conflicting groups, the sources said. Following the incident, the police stepped up security in and around the seaside village. The administration was keeping a close watch on the situation, Kendrapara collector Pradipta Kishore Pattnaik said.