According to sources, stories related to alleged caste discrimination at Mahamariamman temple have been around for over four decades.
TIRUCHY: Residents belonging to Scheduled Caste and living in Sittilarai panchayat of Musiri taluk have alleged caste discrimination in a temple coming under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department. Members of the community alleged that they are being denied entry to the temple, despite a court ruling in their favour, and are also victims of two tumbler system.
According to sources, stories related to alleged caste discrimination at Mahamariamman temple have been around for over four decades. P Murugappan, belonging to SC community, approached the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on July 14 this year, seeking rights to enter the temple as it comes under the HR&CE Department. A week after the court’s direction, villagers belonging to Scheduled Caste entered the temple for the first time. However, SC residents alleged that they have been denied entry since then.
Talking to TNIE, Murugappan said, “We are planning to approach the court collectively to claim our rights to offer worship. We need police protection to enter the temple, because we are receiving serious threats from caste Hindus. Caste discrimination is evident in our village. Two out of four tea shops in our panchayat follow the two tumbler system. Earlier, we had demanded for a bench to sit in a particular tea shop. Now, they have removed it.”
M Gomathi, who also belongs to SC community said, “Years ago, we built our own temple. However, villagers belonging to caste Hindu communities did not allow us to take our deity in procession through streets. When we stress on our rights to enter the Mahamariamman temple, caste Hindu community members assault us.”
Talking to TNIE, panchayat president B Balakumar said, “I am from a caste Hindu community. However, people from all communities have elected me as a leader. What is being done to SC people here is unacceptable. For a long time, authorities did not that reveal that the temple comes under the HR and CE Department. The two tumbler system does exist in the panchayat. I am unable to do much because I do not have the cooperation of the authorities and residents belonging to caste Hindu communities.”
Musiri tahsildar Shanmuga Priya, who spoke to TNIE, said, “Peace committee meetings have already been conducted to resolve the temple issue.” When asked why SC residents still complain of discrimination, she said, “The temple is fully under the HR and CE department and the executive officer’s control. I have nothing to say in this.” As regards the alleged two tumbler system, she said, “I have not heard about it so far. I will ask the VAO and revenue inspector to inquire into the allegation.”
An official from the HR and CE Department in Musiri said, “Earlier, caste Hindus had a priest from one of their communities. Following the court direction in July, our department appointed a priest from a different caste. The temple is open from 10 am to 12 am every day, as we follow a 1-time puja routine”. Reacting to allegations of two tumbler system, a police officer from Musiri said, “We have not received any such complaint so far. However, I will inquire into it.”
Courtesy : The New Indian Express