In its bid to end the age-old practice of untouchability and ban on entry into temples in certain pockets of the state, Orissa government has prepared a strategy to deal with such situation.
"It was decided to initiate prompt action against the persons delivering inflammatory speeches on the basis of caste besides launching massive awareness campaign against the menace," a senior official in the Scheduled Tribes/Scheduled Castes, Other Backward Classes and Minorities Development department said on Thursday.
The state government's plan to check the dual issue was part of the strategy prepared to be submitted with the National Commission for Scheduled Caste. The state government had earlier assured NCSC that it would prepare a strategy plan to combat the practices last month.
"District administration along with police should move the administration of major temples in the state to issue necessary advisory to managing committees to take all possible steps for ensuing that there is no discrimination between one community and the other so far as entry and offer of puja are concerned," the strategy plan report said.
Earlier, NCSC chairman P L Punia had expressed grave concern over the ban on entry of dalits into a temple at Brahmagiri in Puri district. Punia visited the temple and asked the government to ensure that all should get equal opportunity to enter temple and offer puja.
The report said the district authorities will take steps for printing posters, handbills, leaflets and distribute them in villages.
"Hoardings need to be erected near temples and conspicuous places of gram panchayats. Steps may also be taken to create awareness through street play and other cultural activities," it said.
The government also decided to make it a point to discuss the issues of untouchability and Dalits' temple entry in monthly meetings of Panchayat Samities and Gram Panchayats in vulnerable pockets.
The strategy plan also suggested that there should be added effort to create awareness about the ill effects of untouchability in the curriculum of elementary and secondary level of education.
"The students of elementary schools should not only be taught about the bad of untouchability but also should be encouraged to ensure that the school becomes an example of for setting a suitable ambience where children interact with each other free from caste-affiliations," the official said.
Stating that greater level of urbanisation, economic development and education had resulted in substantial blurring of the caste discrimination, the government admitted that in some remote and backward pockets, stray incidents of untouchability related issues have been reported.The state government cited issues relating to ban on dalits to enter temple in Kendrapara and Puri districts and said one case of untouchability incident was reported from Paradip area in Jagatsinghour district.