Dalits set foot in temple for the first time, in Anugonda

Still a long way to go to achieve equality, say villagers

Dalits in Anugonda village of Kodumuru mandal in Kurnool district, who were not allowed to even get hair cuts at barbershops or pray at temples, came together on Monday to hold a procession through the village, protesting centuries of oppression and discrimination.

The march began from the village high school on Nagalapuram Road and ended at the Sri Pochamma Avva temple. Beating drums and raising slogans against untouchabilty, which is still prevalent in the village, the protesters marched through the village streets, supported by activists of the Kula Vivakshata Porata Samithi (KVPS) walking behind them.

The protest march comes in the wake of an attack on a Dalit youth, who was assaulted and thrown out of a barbershop where he had gone to get a haircut.

Reaching the temple, the Dalit men and women set foot in the temple for the first time and offered prayers to the deity. The prayers were conducted by Dalit Soshan Manch national secretary Srinivasa Rao, who played a key role in the march. “Even after 75 years of Independence, the age-old practice of keeping Dalits out of the barbershops and temples is rampant. Little has been done to change these age-old practices,” Mr. Srinivasa Rao said, adding that there was still a long way to go to achieve equality.

Dalits were barred from sitting in the bus station and the ‘Rachcha Katta’ (central common area of the village) — a practice which ended on Monday. The KVPS leaders addressed the villagers from the Rachcha Katta and asked them not to bow before anyone and stop following the wrong practices. KVPS district secretary Satyam and activists from other outfits spoke on the occasion.

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