The police said the incident went off peacefully

Around 400 Dalit men and women, led by members of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, entered the Mariamman Temple in Kalapatti station limits on Sunday morning.

The Front members also led similar protests in Vavikadai in Erode, Kattumarakuttai in Salem, Kalasapakkam in Tiruvannamalai, Palladam in Tirupur, Walajapet in Vellore, Karambakkudi in Pudukottai and Marianathapuram in Dindigul.

The Coimbatore Rural police said that the incident went off peacefully, as the Dalits entered the temple, in the midst of police presence and offered prayers to the deity. The Dalits were guided by P. Sampath, State president, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, P.R. Natarajan, MP, R. Athiyaman, founder, Adi Tamizhar Peravai, U.K.Sivagnanam, District Secretary, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, V. Ramamoorthy, district secretary, Communist Party of India, Coimbatore, S. Arumugham, district secretary, CITU, Kovai Ravikumar, general secretary, Adi Tamizhar Viduthalai Munnani, V. Perumal, district president, Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, Coimbatore, and N. Amirtham, state president, All India Democratic Women's Association.

Mr. Sivagnanam said that members of the dominant caste Hindu community in the area had denied Dalits their rights to enter the temple, which, since 1976, had remained under the control of the State Government's Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department.

To protest against the denial of right and to ensure that the members of the community had access to the temple, the Front decided to hold the temple-entry movement on Sunday.

He also said that the district Collector, Superintendent of Police and Revenue Divisional Officer had assured them that henceforth, the members of the community would not have problems in entering the temple and that that they would stand by them. A release from the Front said that its members undertook the temple-entry agitation on September 30, which was the anniversary of Sreenivasa Rao of Thanjavur, who had fought against discrimination.

More In: Coimbatore