Following a dispute over worship at temple
Simmering differences over right to worship at a temple between two groups led to an attack on at least 21 tile-roofed houses of Dalits by a section of caste Hindus at Panniyan near Chekkanoorani in the district on Monday evening
A huge posse of police, led by Additional Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) K.G. Narasimhavardan, has been deployed there.
A narrow road separates the dwellings of caste Hindus, who are a majority, and the Dalits at the village. In the Monday’s attack, a few autorickshaws and two-wheelers were also damaged. The victims claimed that eight persons, including four children, were injured. Two houses of caste Hindus were also damaged, the police said.
“As I tried to take shelter in a concrete-roofed house of my relative, a stone landed on the head of my son, causing a bleeding injury,” said J. Vanitha, who was seen holding her six-month-old son Ganapathi Pandi near one of the damaged autos.
The villagers, mostly women and children, took refuge on a hillock, a part of Nagamalai, till the police came to their rescue.
“A few police personnel who were posted at the village as a precautionary measure did nothing to prevent the attack by caste Hindus,” complained Dalit village head P. Palraj (58).
Festivals have not been conducted for the last four years at Sri Kaliamman Temple after Dalits complained that they were not allowed to participate in “mulaipari” procession. Revenue officials called for a peace meeting when they came to know of the arrangements made by caste Hindus for the festival on Tuesday, without involving Dalits.
“We had told them that only “mulaipari” ritual should be conducted without using public address system and drum beating. Dalits also agreed to stay away from the “mulaipari” procession during the peace meeting,” Usilampatti Revenue Divisional Officer M. Suganya said.
The police said the first stone was thrown from the Dalit side as a few caste Hindu youths rode motorbikes rashly. They were drunk despite dry days announced in the district, they added. Leaders of the Left parties, VCK and Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front visited the village and consoled Dalits.
CPI (M) district secretary C. Ramakrishnan said Dalits were denied their rights at the common temple. The district administration should provide medical support to the injured, due compensation to the victims and bring the culprits to book.
V. Kaniamuthan of the VCK sought police protection to Dalits. “This is one of the biggest settlements of Dalits in Usilampatti region and caste Hindu groups from several neighbouring villages had targeted them,” he complained.
He said an open theatre constructed under the MLA’s fund had been usurped by caste Hindus who had renamed it to their choice. Usilampatti DSP Ramakrishnan said six persons had been arrested.
Meanwhile, the ‘mulaipari’ ritual at the temple was performed by caste Hindus without any trouble on Tuesday evening.
Courtesy : The Hindu