The Saileshwor Temple in Silgadhi, Dipayal, used to be off limits to Dalits. But following a memorandum the Dalits of six far-western districts submitted to the Doti DAO on September 11, they were assured of entry from September 17. Accordingly, the temple priest welcomed the Dalits but a mob of non-Dalits went on a rampage that left 50 Dalits injured. The mob threw brickbats on the pretext that the Federation of Dalit Women’s Organisation, Semi-Development Centre and NGOs are instigating the Dalits to enter temples. The mob’s ill-treatment of the journalists, including The Himalayan Times scribe Tekendra Deuba, is downright deplorable and merits a thorough investigation.

Though the Muluki Ain abolished untouchability in 1963, and the Constitution guarantees equality before the law, the ground reality is starkly different. Cases of flagrant discrimination have surfaced from time to time. But on the other hand, there are some temples where Dalits or Janajatis, not Brahmins, have traditionally officiated as priests. This clearly testifies that the present discrimination is largely the result of ignorance and feudal mentality although it is not fair to claim that it represents wholesale discrimination sanctioned by religion. One reason why discrimination exists even decades after it has been abolished is the lack of effective remedial measures against such an outrage. This is an area where improvement is urgently needed. But no law can be perfect unless it is backed up by adequate social awareness. And education can be a potent tool to battle this social evil.