Members of the dominant Panchamasali Lingayat community in Nandihalli village in Ranebennur taluk of Karnataka’s Haveri district allegedly molested women from the Madiga community, a Scheduled Caste, after they tried to enter a local temple during a village fair. The perpetrators also allegedly set fire to at least two houses in the Dalit colony of the village. The alleged attack happened on March 3, the day a procession held as part of the village fair for the deity Dyamavva passed through the Dalit colony.

As the procession was passing by, a few youth and children from the Dalit colony reportedly joined in the celebrations. This was allegedly opposed by some of the dominant caste members who did not want Dalits participating in the festivities, citing that they had not contributed to the fair financially.

A verbal altercation reportedly ensued between the two groups, with the Panchamasali Lingayats allegedly using abusive language and casteist slurs. Speaking to TNM, Nandihalli resident and Dalit journalist Ramesh Malladad said, “Later that night [following the argument], a few upper caste people set fire to Dalit leader Maridevappa’s house. They even molested Dalit women and assaulted our youth.”

The violence did not end there. The attackers allegedly hurled stones at houses in the Dalit colony, and repeatedly made offensive remarks about the Madiga community. “They threw stones at our houses and constantly said that we Madigas should not enter the temple. They even tore an Ambedkar banner that was put up in our colony,” Ramesh said…

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