MEHSANA, May 16 (PTI): Scheduled Caste residents of a village in Gujarat’s Mehsana district have alleged caste discrimination during the feast at a religious function organised by the Patidar community where the separate sitting arrangement was made for them.
Patidar community leaders have denied the allegation while the local authorities are trying to resolve the issue.
A District social justice department official said meetings were organised between members of the two communities after a controversy erupted over food arrangements made at a religious event organised on Sunday and Monday.
Dalit community members of Bhataria village claimed they were made to sit separately at dinner organised on the occasion of “Pran Pratishtha Mahotsav” of Umiya Mata and Mahadev temple by Patidar community following which they refused to eat.
Food arrangement for 120 members of the SC community was made at a village school at a distance from the temple, they alleged.
Aggrieved community members also submitted a memorandum to the district collector demanding appropriate action. Local police were also called in to defuse the tension.
Village sarpanch Vijayaben Parmar, who belongs to the Dalit community, claimed she was also told to sit separately from other villagers during the feast despite being the village panchayat head.
“I stand with my community. We will fight against the ill-treatment meted out to us. We cannot tolerate this,” she told reporters.
Local activist, Kantibhai Nadia, claimed Dalits in Bhataria village are being treated as untouchables and women members are not allowed to cook in village anganwadi centres.
“In the village, the barber refused to cut the hair of a Dalit man. Neither we nor our children visited the temple. We do puja and bhajan at home. How long will this injustice last?” he asked.
Local Patidar leaders Natubhai Patel and Rashikbhai Patel refuted the allegations, saying no separate arrangement for food was made for Dalits. “All communities live here together,” they said.
Deputy Director, Social Justice Department, Mehsana, JP Solanki told reporters that officials met the members of the Dalit community of the village and tried to understand the grievance.
“We also met the Patidar community members and considered their submission. Thereafter, we also held a meeting of both communities together, and an effort is on to resolve the issue socially. We expect that the issue will be solved and no such thing will occur in the future,” she said.