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Dalit students prevented from offering prayers to Lord Ganesha

Kendrapara (Odisha), Sep 9, 2013 (PTI): 20:46 IST
A group of Dalit students were prevented from offering prayers to Lord Ganesha and beaten up allegedly by some upper caste people in a government-run school, causing tension in Chakoda-Gogua village of the district, police said today.

The incident occurred when the dalit students went to offer prayers to the deity like other upper caste students in the Chakoda-Gogua High School, but they were stopped from doing so and allegedly beaten up by some upper caste villagers, triggering caste conflict in the area, they said.

"Police had rushed to the village to stop escalation of tension in the area. Legal action is being initiated against those who ill-treated the dalit students on caste ground. No FIR has been lodged in this connection as yet," Superintendent of Police Rabi Narayan Behera said.

The village, with a population of about 1,000 including 300 hailing from dalit community, had never witnessed caste-related problems in the past.

"Teachers and guardians of some upper caste students committed offence under various acts for for which they should be immediately arrested," dalit leader and the president of Ambedkar-Lohia Vichar Manch, Rabindra Nath Sethi said.

The dalit students are deeply hurt by the caste-based discrimination, Sethi said adding promotion of caste bias in government-run schools was in bad taste.

"Some teachers and guardians of upper caste students prevented us from worshipping the deity in the school and hurled abusive languages when we tried to offer prayer with other school children. We were scolded and manhandled," alleged a class X student of the school.

"Some upper caste villagers beat up dalit students. They also instigated the teachers not to allow dalit students to offer anything to the deity in the school," dalit leader Ashol Mallick claimed.

The school authorities were not available for comment.

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