Kerala Dalit activist goes on hunger strike alleging discrimination in temple ritual
A Dalit activist launched a hunger strike on Tuesday alleging that Dalits were excluded from a temple ritual in Azhikkal of Kannur.
In the more than a century old ritual of Azhikkal Pampadi Aalinkeezhil temple called ‘Thiruvayudham Ezhunnallathu’, a procession of people carrying swords visit the households in the region and celebrate the festival.
Janadhipathya Rashtriya Sabha (JRS) general secretary Thekkan Sunilkumar, who is on a hunger strike alleges that in the ritual, temple authorities intentionally exclude the Dalit houses.
In the history of the festival, which will begin on Wednesday, Dalit households were not included in the ritual, says the activist.
He said that the temple authorities were violating the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, by discriminating Dalits.
While speaking to media, Sunilkumar said that in February 2015, the Collector had asked temple authorities to take the procession to all households, but it was not carried out.
As per reports, for last several years, the Dalit community has been trying to get included in the ritual and have filed mass petitions with the police and district administration, seeking justice.
“The Thiruvayudham Ezhunnallathu is taken to the houses of those communities associated with the temple rites and Dalits have no role in it. We cannot change it overnight,” temple committee president Mullankandi Mukundan told The Times of India.
But Sunilkumar refuted the claims by the temple committee.
“It is false that they visit only the houses of people associated with the temple. The procession visits all houses of the Hindus, except the Dalits,” he told media.