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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Hindu Organization Condemns Discrimination against Dalit Teenager, Offers Scholarship to His Family

Troy, Michigan--June 4, 2004--Navya Shastra, a U.S. based organization whose goal is to foster the spiritual equality all Hindus, has condemned the banning of Tukaram, 19, from a Hanuman temple in Allapur, Andhra Pradesh, after he went to pray there.

Tukaram, from the Dalit community, had recently obtained a first class on his intermediate examinations and wished to offer his gratitude to Hanuman, the village deity, with the traditional coconut offering. When upper caste villagers found out about his visit, they condemned the boy and extorted a Rs. 500 fine from his apologetic father, Tulsiram. “The upper castes also purified the temple with cow dung and urine so as to efface the "imprints" of an untouchable,” according to Vikram Masson, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman.

Such atrocities take place in India every day, but given the unquestionable religious prejudice that motivated Tukaram’s banning, his plight has provoked a strong reaction in the NRI community in United States.

“Tukaram must know that others in the Hindu world strongly condemn such actions,” said Jaishree Gopal, Co-Chairman of Navya Shastra, “Navya Shastra will award Tukaram a scholarship to help his family with Tukaram's educational costs and sincerely hopes that the Indian government and religious leaders will pay more attention to the apartheid in our midst."

Contact Person

Vikram Masson

(201) 674-2065 (USA)

navyashastra@shastras.org

For a recent press report on this incident, please visit:

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1040602/asp/nation/story_3320692.asp