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Dalits stage protest in Madurai

Staff Reporter

Allege they were denied entry into a temple at Therkutheru village



DENIAL OF WORSHIP? Dalits staging a protest in front of the Collector's bungalow in Madurai on Thursday. — Photo: K. Ganesan

MADURAI: Hundreds of Dalits gheraoed the Collector's bungalow in Madurai on Thursday, alleging they were denied entry into a temple at Therkutheru village near here.

Accusing the local police and revenue officials of preventing them from entering the temple, they said the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had directed that they be allowed to worship at the Arulmigu Mandhai Veeranasamy Temple.

Action sought against DSP

The protesters demanded action against the Melur Deputy Superintendent of Police and the Tahsildar under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1987.

They threatened to surrender their ration cards and boycott the elections if immediate steps were not taken.

"Though the court ordered that Dalits be allowed to worship, the caste Hindus are against it. Last year also, we were denied entry, and the issue was brought to the notice of the District Collector," Dalit Panthers of India leader Solai Arumugham said. When 500 Dalits, including women and children, tried to enter the temple on Wednesday, the officials asked them to offer prayers from outside as their "entry would cause problems."

Mr.Arumugham said the temple was located on `poromboke' land, and no particular community could claim the exclusive right to pray there.

"It is painful that Dalits are still struggling to enter temples."

After the security personnel denied the protesters permission to enter the Collector's residence, they went to the Collectorate and submitted a memorandum to the Revenue Divisional Officer.

Prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the Cr.P.C. were clamped in Therkutheru, police said. District officials, however, said the court order had been implemented, and opportunity was given to all communities to worship in the temple.

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