Dalits barred entry into temple, tension in Tirupur village

COIMBATORE: Tension gripped the Uthamapalayam village in Tirupur district in western Tamil Nadu after dalits were allegedly barred from entering a Hindu temple built by non-dalits.

Behind the serene facade of Uthamapalayam, a village about 12km from Kangeyam town, a row has been simmering for the last one week between 250 dalits and 1,500 non-dalits. The trouble erupted on November 21 when the dominant community of Gounders, besides Mudaliars and Chettiars, decided to perform the kumbabhishekam of the new Mariamman temple they had built. As dalits were refused entry into the new temple, they blocked the roads and staged protests. The revenue divisional officer (RDO) called a meeting of the leaders of the different communities, but the talks failed. Prohibitory orders have been clamped in the village and police are standing guard at the temple site.

Dalits claimed that the upper castes' had refused to even sit along with them during the talks with the RDO. The non-dalits allegedly constructed the new temple as dalits were allowed entry into the old temple which was being administered by the HR&CE department in January 2005. The dalits alleges that the upper caste people took away the jewels of the deities and funds of the old temple to form a new Mariamman Trust and build the new temple.

"An FIR has been filed against both parties (dalits and non-dalits) and a curfew has been imposed under section 145 of the CrPC to prevent further tension," said revenue divisional officer (RDO) Akbar Ali.
"The Mariamman Trust is illegal because the old temple is under the HR&CE department. There should be only one Mariamman temple for this village and both the dalits and the upper castes should be allowed to worship there," says S Karuppiah,the convenor of the temple entry movement. But the non-dalits are unrelenting. "Who are they to say there cannot be two temples in Uthamapalayam," asks 57-year-old V Sivasubramani, a land-owning Gounder, whose father is a temple trustee.
The old temple, which has stood in Uthamapalayam for 600 years, meanwhile, has been abandoned by everyone in the village. "No one wants to worship there anymore. The priest never comes. He is in the control of the upper castes," says P Muthu, a dalit labourer, who was part of the temple entry movement.
After series of meetings to bring about peace between the two groups failed, the RDO ordered an inquiry on December 2. Non-dalits claim that the temple is on nearly two acres of patta land owned by them and, therefore, they have the right to keep dalits out. But dalits counter that the trust which owns the land is a public body and they have the right to enter the temple.
Dalits are unable to offer worship in many temples across Tamil Nadu even 86 years after rationalist leader EV Ramasamy led a revolutionary movement to take Dalits into Hindu shrines. Dalit leaders and Left party functionaries have launched a state-wide movement to throw open the temples which are shut for the Dalits.
Read more: Dalits barred entry into temple, tension in Tirupur village - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/Dalits-barred-entry-into-temple-tension-in-Tirupur-village/articleshow/6978482.cms#ixzz16Db7MshN


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