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Claims over land close to temple triggered group clash

By Our Staff Reporter

KARUR SEPT. 22. Conflicting claims by two communities over a piece of disputed land and the inability of officials to resolve it, when a solution was crystallising some time back, lies at the root of last Tuesday's group clash at Mettumahadanapuram near Kulithalai in Karur district.

While one community feels that the other is putting hurdles in its pursuit of having a Mahamariamman temple for itself, the other claims that it was the former, which doctored documents to steadily expand to build the temple.

The temple lies at the village square flanked by streets housing the estranged communities. The temple built by the downtrodden and renovated by them recently has an open space adjoining it. A shed put by them sparked trouble.

"Neither officials nor politicians came to our rescue when it mattered the most. They need not have supported us, but could have played a fair game. We never got a chance to put forward our grievances and were forced to bear the brunt,'' says Vembadisamy. He says his community was asking for just one cent of land to house a kitchen for the poor who solemnise marriage in the temple. People of his community claim that the rival group encroached upon 12 acres of Kottaikalam and one acre of Mandhai Poromboke.

But the other group denies the charge and say that it was the former that misunderstood the intention of the meeting they were planning to have on September 16 and indulged in stone pelting. "We have not encroached on their land. It is they who are misusing the common area,'' says P. Mani, former president, Mahadanapuram panchayat. They too admit that it was partially because of the lax officialdom that things went to such an extreme. "This incident has given outsiders a chance to gain mileage. Those who control the temple put up obscene structures atop the tower facing our street wantonly,'' says G. Amsakandan, president, Mahadanapuram Panchayat.

However, the Karur District Collector, P. Annamalai, dismissed the claims of both groups that there was laxity on the part of officials. Inclusion of provisions under the Protection of Civil Rights Act in the FIRs registered would help the downtrodden get compensation for the damages suffered, he said. "We'll take necessary steps to bring the estranged communities closer,'' he told The Hindu today. The Karur MP, M. Chinnasamy, and the Krishnarayapuram MLA, Sasikala Ravi, visited the village twice and assured to execute some common basic amenities such as sewage drain lines and also improve sanitary conditions.

Strong police presence is being maintained near the temple. The authorities have demolished the disputed shed.

The DSP, Kulithalai, Nityanandam, along with other officials and constabulary are camping in the village.

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