Dalit priest in Kerala claims casteist remarks made against him

Dalit priest in Kerala claims casteist remarks made against him

Renjith R S, a priest of the Vazhichal Dharma Sastha Temple at Aryancode, was appointed as part-time ‘shanthi’ by the TDB

Arjun Raghunath, DHNS, Thiruvananthapuram, NOV 24 2021, 20:35 IST UPDATED: NOV 24 2021, 20:35 IST
Representative image. Credit: iStock Photo

A priest in a temple of Kerala has alleged that he was subjected to casteist slur and assault.
Renjith R S, a priest of the Vazhichal Dharma Sastha Temple at Aryancode in a rural part of Thiruvananthapuram and who hails from the Dalit community, was appointed as part-time ‘shanthi’ by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB) in January.
Twenty-seven-year-old Renjith said that he had been facing discrimination and casteist remarks from a section of members in the advisory committee of the temple over the last several months. Though he had brought the matter to the TDB authorities, there was no relief.

He said that the provocation for the fresh assault was that he did not follow the instruction of the advisory committee members that poojas Renjith alleged that on Sunday he was assaulted and locked up in a room by a couple of members of the advisory committee. Though he filed a police complaint, the police did not take any action against them. The Aryancode police said that the case was under investigation. Even as the priest alleged that he was locked up, when the police reached the spot he was not found to be locked up, the police said.

Various forums of Dalits had sought action against the accused. Meanwhile, Devaswom Board sources said that there were certain allegations against Renjith and the Devaswom Board’s vigilance wing was probing into it. A former president of TDB had recently stated that at many temples, the priests were directly collecting charges for poojas and hence the TDB was facing a revenue fall.

It was in 2017 that the Travancore Devaswom Board appointed members from Dalit communities as priests in temples. The decision was widely welcomed. However, some priests had complained of discrimination at temples.

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