A group of Dalit girls were allegedly denied entry into a temple at Mehlol village in Panchmahals district by the priest and his two sons, police said on Monday. Mehlol, incidentally, is the native village of sitting BJP MP from Panchmahals Lok Sabha seat Prabhatsinh Chauhan. DSP (SC/ST Cell) Harish Kansagara said an FIR was registered in connection with the incident at Vejalpur police station.
No arrests have been made so far, he said. Locals claimed the priest of the Mahadev Temple denied the entry to the girls who wanted to offer prayers on the occasion of ‘gauri vrat’. “When the priest found out that one of the girls had managed to enter into the temple to offer prayers, he hurled casteist abuses and forced her to leave the premises,” Ravi Solanki, a local, said.
Solanki said the girls belonging to the Valmiki community were forced to pray outside the temple.
The DSP (SC/ST Cell) said the police have begun investigating the case. “An FIR has been registered against the priest and two others who allegedly abused the girls,” Kansagara said. A Vejalpur police station official said the FIR was filed by a woman named Urmilaben Harijan.
The FIR alleges that priest Babubhai Bhatt and his sons Nilesh Kumar and Madhusudan hurled casteist abuses at the complainant and others while stopping them from entering the temple.
The FIR was registered under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and sections 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 114 (abettor when offence is committed) of the Indian Penal Code.