At least 14 people were injured when clashes broke out between two communities over offering of prayers on the festival of Shivratri in south-west Madhya Pradesh on Saturday.
According to some members of the Dalit community, a few “upper caste” people stopped them from entering a temple in the state’s Khargone district.
The police said what began as an argument over Dalits praying at the Shiva temple built by people of three other communities in Chhapra village of Sanawad, turned into a physical clash. Both sides threw stones at each other and “complaints have been taken from both the parties and action will be taken,” police said.
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As per the complaint filed by the Dalit group, the trouble started after people from the Gurjar community stopped Dalit girls from entering the temple. A counter-case has also been registered against 34 people for attacking the Gurjars with weapons.
The police have filed a case against 17 suspects and 25 unidentified others for rioting and other charges, including those under the law to protect Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
A senior police officer said the village was tense since a banyan tree was cut in the area and there was a proposal to set up a statue of BR Ambedkar.
A complaint had been filed by the Gurjars against six people from the Dalit community over axing of the tree.
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In a separate incident in the neighbouring Kasrawad area on the same day, members of a community accused another of stopping them from praying at a Shiva temple in Chhoti Kasrawad village. According to the complainant, she was abused over her caste and shoved by women for offering water to the Shivlinga.
Five people have been named in a police case, including charges under the caste discrimination law, the police said.
(With agency inputs)