Close on the heels of the lynching of a man to death following a rumour that he and his family ate beef, a 90-year-old Dalit man was brutally attacked with an axe and set on fire for trying to enter a temple at Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh, India. The elderly man died on the spot.


02 October, 2015

The Hindustan Times reported that

The victim, identified as Chimma, had gone to the Maidani Baba temple with his wife, son Durjan and brother on Wednesday evening. He was stopped from entering the temple by a man named Sanjay Tiwari.

When Chimma did not relent, Tiwari allegedly attacked him with an axe and then set him on fire.

The incident took place in the presence of several other worshippers in Bilgaon, a village on the boundary between Hamirpur and Jalaun districts located 140km from Kanpur.

Police said Tiwari had been arrested after he was nabbed by other people present in the area. They said he was drunk at the time of the incident.

An eyewitness said Tiwari had asked Chimma and several others not to enter the temple but they refused.

He said Tiwari became furious and attacked the Dalit man with an axe. While Chimma’s wife screamed for help, Tiwari doused the elderly man with kerosene and set him afire, the eyewitness said.

Two aides of Tiwari, who were named in the FIR filed by police, are on the run.

Hindu religion, which is still governed by a highly hierarchical caste system, denied temple entry to majority of its members belonging to the lower castes until early half of the 20th century. It was movements led by Hindu reformers, especially the temple entry movement in Kerala, starting with the Vaikom Satyagraha struggle in 1924 that led to the abolition on the restriction of temple entry. It was vehemently resisted by the upper caste Hindus.

When India won Independence from the British and the new Constitution was adopted, untouchability and its practice in any form was abolished under Article 17 of the Constitution. Untouchability means the practices evolved as social restrictions in sharing food, access to public places, offering prayers and performing religious services, entry in temple and other public places and denial of access to drinking water sources, etc.

Hinduism is generally believed world over as a religion of tolerance and peace, mainly taking the life and practices of Mahatma Gandhi as an example. But people living in the strictly hierarchical caste structure of Hindusism tell a tale of oppression severe than racism. Untouchability is still practiced in many parts of India. Caste violence, rapes and killings still occur regularly in India. One of the demands of the Dalit groups in the “World Conference against Racism” held in Durban, South Africa 2001 was to term caste system as racism. But the Durban declaration failed to term caste discrimination as racism.

On Monday night in Dadri village, North Western Uttar Pradesh (UP), around 45 km from the capital city of India, New Delhi, A fifty year old Muslim man was beaten to death, and critically injured his 22 year old son by a mob of about 100 people alleging that the family ate beef in the house.