Faced caste discrimination at temple, says Dalit minister in Kerala

Kerala Temple Affairs Minister and Dalit face of CPI(M), K Radhakrishnan, has said that he faced caste discrimination at a temple in the state when he went there to be part of a function recently.

“I went to a temple for a function related to the inauguration. The temple chief priest came to me with a lamp for lighting. I thought the lamp was meant for me, but he did not hand it to me — he went and kindled the lamp. I kept away, assuming that it was part of the ritual at that temple. The chief priest then handed over the light to the assistant priest. I thought that the light would be handed over to me thereafter, but they did not give me — instead placed the light on the floor,” Radhakrishnan said.

“The priests thought I would take up the light and kindle the lamp. Should I pick it? I told them to mind their business,” Radhakrishnan said.

The senior CPI(M) leader said although he faced discrimination at that temple, there was no discrimination towards the money he, and others like him, donated to the temple.

He said: “There is no discrimination towards the money offered by the poor at the temple — I said this in the presence of that chief priest.”

“I don’t agree with going back to the days of the caste system. Those who created the caste system had a clear perspective: to keep people divided. Those who created the caste system are intelligent and smarter than people involved in the Chandrayaan mission,” the minister said.

“This might not be the first time he faced discrimination based on caste. He may have experienced it before, but this is the first time he’s speaking out about it,” writer and activist Sunny M. Kapicadu said to Maktoob.

“News reports are saying that Radhakrishnan experienced discrimination, but they don’t mention the names of the people responsible. The government, led by Pinarayi Vijayan, should take legal action against the priests responsible for harassing a senior member of his cabinet under the SC/ST Prohibition Act,” Kapicadu demanded.

Kapicadu said that this is the byproduct of Sanatana Dharma which even didn’t treat Dalits as humans, and they see inequality as something divine.

“Radhakrishnan is a senior and experienced leader in the CPIM and a senior member of Pinarayi’s cabinet, so giving him a lower-ranking portfolio can be seen as an act of caste-based discrimination,” he said.