An argument over offering prayers on the festival of Shivratri devolved into an all-out battle between two communities in southwest Madhya Pradesh on Saturday, leaving at least 14 people injured.
Members of the Dalit community alleged that some people from a so-called “upper caste” allegedly stopped them from entering a temple in the Khargone district.
The argument over Dalits praying at the Shiva temple built by people of three other communities in Chhapra village of Sanawad area escalated into a physical clash, the police have said.
Indiscriminate stone-throwing from both sides was reported in the violence that gripped the area, some 250 km from the capital Bhopal.
“There was heavy stone pelting from both sides. Complaints have been taken from both the parties and action will be taken,” senior police officer Vinod Dixit said.
One complaint filed by a Premlal of the Dalit community alleged that a group led by a Bhaiya Lal Patel, from the Gurjar community, stopped Dalit girls from entering the temple.
The police have filed a case against 17 suspects and 25 unidentified others for rioting and other charges, including those under the law to protect Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
On the complaint of Ravindra Rao Maratha, a counter-case has also been registered against Premlal and 33 others for attacking them with weapons.
“A team of police and revenue officials visited the village. It was explained to both the parties that no caste can be stopped from entering the temple,” Mr Dixit said.
He said the village had been on edge for the last few days over the cutting of a Banyan tree, considered sacred by some, and a proposal to set up a statue of constitution architect and Dalit icon BR Ambedkar.
A complaint had been filed by the Gurjars against six people from the Dalit community over axing the tree.
With inputs from NDTV