Uttarakhand Dalits demand entry into temples, spark fears of conflict

Prithviraj Singh, Hindustan Times, Dehradun | Updated: May 18, 2016 10:48 IST

Dalits in Uttarakhand are preparing to fight a centuries-old tradition that forbids them from entering and worshipping at 349 temples of the hill state’s Jaunsar-Bhabar region, which might ignite a volatile face-off with upper-caste communities.

Dubbed the holiest land for Hindus, the Himalayan state is studded with thousands of temples, many of which have been off-limits for low-caste people.

Dalit leaders said they would forcibly enter the temples, especially five popular ones in the Jaunsar-Bhabar region of Dehradun district, constituting the Chakrata hill block.

The campaign will begin at Sindhugur Maharaj temple at Pokhari village of Chakrata on May 20, where a religious function to mark its Rs 2.5-crore renovation is expected to attract about 10,000 people, they said. The shrine, like many others in the area, is reserved for upper castes.

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