Himachal Pradesh Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Rajiv Saizal on Tuesday told the state assembly that he was not allowed to enter a temple as he is a Dalit, reported PTI. Saizal said that he and Nachan MLA Vinod Kumar were not allowed to enter a temple. The minister, however, did not mention the name and location of the temple.
He was speaking while participating in a discussion on a bill that extends reservation for SCs and STs in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies by another 10 years. The state Assembly in its special one-day session ratified by a unanimous voice vote The Constitution (126th) Amendment Bill.
Earlier, Congress MLA from Kinnaur Jagat Singh Negi said that Dalits were not allowed to enter temples in some places in the state. The minister said he agreed with the Congress MLAs who had stated that Dalits are not allowed inside some temples.
Saizal, 47, who is an MLA from Kasauli (SC) Assembly segment in Solan district, said that the society as a whole was required to take steps to end this discrimination.
The minister praised Sikh gurus for starting the langar system in an attempt to end the caste system and said that Mahatma Gandhi had praised the RSS for its endeavours to bring equality among various classes of society.
Congress MLA Sukhvinder Sukhu said if the minister was not allowed to enter the temple, he was provided protection under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 that was formulated by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. To this, Saizal said that he wanted to shine light on the reality outside and it should be taken in that sense only.
He said that even former Dalit ministers from the Congress would have been denied entry into some temples during the previous Congress regimes.
Replying to the discussion on the ratification motion, Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur said Saizal spoke very well on the issue. Thakur admitted that discrimination against Dalits existed in some parts of the state and members of the community were still served food in separate queues.
(With PTI inputs)
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