Dwarka temple priest, official dismiss Selja's 'caste' claims

A priest of famous Dwarka temple and a senior Gujarat government official, who was associated with the shrine, on Thursday refuted former Union minister Kumari Selja's claims.

PTI| Last Updated: Dec 03, 2015, 22:08 PM IST

Ahmedabad: A priest of famous Dwarka temple and a senior Gujarat government official, who was associated with the shrine, on Thursday refuted former Union minister Kumari Selja's claims that she was asked to reveal her caste during her visit to the temple in 2013.

Shambhuji Thaker, the priest who claimed to be present at the temple during Selja's visit, alleged that the Congress leader has made false claim, and on the contrary, she had termed her visit as "a very good experience".

District Collector of Devbhoomi Dwarka and ex-officio Chairman of Dwarkadhish Temple Administrative Committee H K Patel said, "Selja recently alleged in Rajya Sabha that she was asked to reveal her caste by priests during her visit to the temple (but) no such practice is in place here."

Thaker told reporters at the temple that Selja's "false allegations" have hurt sentiments of all.

"If you are a visitor, then no one will ask you anything. If you want to perform a puja (ritual) here, then priests usually ask you to reveal your 'gotra' (clan lineage), which is customary. If you don't know your gotra, then we ask them to tell their surname. But, we never inquire about their castes," he said.

Thaker claimed Selja had praised the temple and described her visit as a "very good experience" in the visitor's book.

The elderly priest said he was very "disturbed" by the allegations and contemplating to quit the service.

Patel also echoed Thaker saying nobody is asked to reveal caste at the temple.

"Senior priest Shambhuji Thaker, who was in temple during her (Selja's) visit, is very disturbed because of such baseless allegations," he said.

He said that Thaker has expressed his desire to retire from his service.

"(But) I asked him not to take any step out of anguish. As the chairman of the temple committee, I also refute Selja's allegations as we never ask anyone to reveal their caste," Patel said.

During a debate on 'Commitment to Constitution' in Rajya Sabha, Selja had said that she was asked about her caste when she had visited the famous Dwarka temple as a minister.

"I am a Dalit but I am Hindu. I feel like visiting temples. I wanted to go to Dwarka temple. I have visited hundreds of temples. (I visited) Dwarka temple when I was Cabinet minister. I was asked about my caste," she had said.