Bhopal: Over two dozen people were reportedly injured in a clash that broke out in Madhya Pradesh's Khargone district over alleged stopping of Dalit devotees from offering prayers at a Shiva temple on Mahashivratri on Saturday, officials said.
As per reports, a large number of people had gathered to offer prayers at the temple located in Chhapara when a heated argument broke between people belong of different OBC communities, who had built the temple, and SC Balai community, which later snowballed into heavy stone pelting at each other involving many more from both sides.
As per the official reports, the argument broke out after a group of women belonging to the Balai community was stopped from offering prayers at a temple on Mahashivratri by people belonging to Maratha, Patel and Gurjar communities.
An FIR in this regard was also lodged at a local police station wherein the SC community has accused the people from OBC community of stopping them from entering the temple to offer prayers.
Prompt intervention from district police brought the situation under control within few hours, official sources told IANS but added that the clash did not occur suddenly, but was outcome of a possible situation of confrontation building up for the last few days over felling of a Banyan tree by Dalits on the public land.
OBC groups had complained to police about felling of the tree alleging that SC community wanted to build a temple of Dr BR Ambedkar on that land, close to the temple where the OBC groups allegedly did not allow the Dalits to offer prayers.
However, Khargone district police had defused the crisis, but on Mahashivratri, the communities clashed over the temple entry issue.
"FIRs have been lodged on the complaint of both groups. While the SC community complainant Premlal has named 17 persons in the complaint, based on which an FIR has been lodged under IPC sections and the SC/ST Act, the other side's complainant Ravindra Rao Maratha has named 33 persons, including Premlal in the FIR lodged under IPC sections pertaining to rioting," Sub-Divisional Police Officer Vinod Dixit told the press on Sunday.
A similar incident was reported in neighbouring Khandwa district also over similar allegations of Dalits being stopped from offering prayers at temples but the situation was brought under control soon.
Sources said the incidents of skirmishes between beloning to different castes have came as a source of alarm ahead of the Assembly elections where caste equations play an important role.
"Not just one or two, but nearly half a dozen similar incidents were reported in districts of south-west Madhya Pradesh on this particular occassion and matter is being investigated keeping all aspects in mind," an official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, revealed, adding that displays of power by different communities and castes are coming up as elections get closer.
In all three incidents, two in Khargone and one in Khandwa, young activists of the Bhim Army and tribal outfit Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS) were seen on the ground.
Notably, on February 12, these two outfits had organised a mega rally in Bhopal, where Bhim Army head Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan had announced a third front of SC,ST, OBC and minority groups to take on the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress in the Assembly polls.
For all the latest News, Opinions and Views, download ummid.com App.
Select Language To Read in Urdu, Hindi, Marathi or Arabic.