Damoh: A woman sub-inspector of Madhya Pradesh Police performed religious rituals at a Durga Puja organised by a group of Dalit men after they failed to find a priest in Damoh district.
In Kota village, the Durga puja organisers couldn't find a priest to perform rituals.
A villager claimed that no priest was ready to visit the puja pandal and when they dialed up the police, they were advised to file a complaint.
However, when the SI Anjali Udenia arrived at the scene, she was briefed about the problem. Anjali said that she was a Brahmin herself, and performed the rituals. A priest had later arrived at the site, but the cop made it a point that she completed the rituals.
Another upper caste local, however, claimed that there were a handful of priests in the village who were preoccupied to perform the puja.
On being contacted, SI Anjali Udenia played down the caste angle. Udenia told News18 that she was on a routine patrol on Navratri at night and learned that there was no priest available for the puja at Kota village. "In between, a priest also landed there, but as we can’t leave the puja midway through, he chanted mantras and I completed the rituals," she claimed. However, she denied that she received any complaint from the locals.
On the contrary, the locals claimed that tension prevails in the village over the local politics between an influential Brahmin and a Dalit muscleman.
Interestingly, Damoh district, around 250 km from state capital, is a part of Bundelkhand region which is divided on caste lines where Dalits are not given equal social status as their upper caste counterparts.
Two Dalit grooms in 2015 and 2016 respectively, had faced assaults from upper caste men while riding horses in their marriages in Damoh. Besides, a Dalit boy had drowned in a well trying to fetch water after his teachers turned him away from the school hand pump during lunch last year in Tendukhera area of Damoh.