Saturday, October 13, 2007

Priests in dock over caste row in Sikkim

Gangtok, Oct. 12: Six members of the Tintek Shiva Mandir Management Committee were arrested yesterday for not allowing Scheduled Caste (SC) families to enter the temple. They were today granted bail by the court of the chief judicial magistrate of the East district.
The arrested six are committee president Dina Nath Timsina, vice-president Rup Nayaran Ojha, treasurer Dadiram Ghimeray, general secretary Tikaram Dahal and advisers Man Bahadur Dahal and Babha Lal Neopany.
They were booked under Section 3 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1988, and Section 3 of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955. Police had filed a suo-motu case against the management committee on October 7.
The temple management committee was first accused of prohibiting the minority families from offering puja in the auspicious months of July-August last year.
“This in turn led to a sense of fear and embarrassment among the SC families who stopped going to the temple altogether,” said a source.
The committee has also kept the temple shut for the past few months with the alleged intention of not allowing members of the SC community to perform puja there, the source added.
The Scheduled Caste Welfare Association had approached the East district collector after the incidents of discrimination were first reported. The district administration forwarded the complaints to the police who registered the case.
Gangtok subdivisional police officer Dhiren Lama was entrusted with the case, because according to the law, it had to be handled by a senior officer not below the rank of a deputy superintendent of police.
Lama was also asked to ensure that all such restriction and discrimination at the temple were stopped.