Violence against Dalits who want to worship in village temples and participate in festivals, is on the rise.
The sudden spurt in violent incidents, particularly in Tamil months of Masi, Chitrai and Vaikasi when a majority of the temples in the State celebrate festivals, is being viewed by activists including the CPI(M)'s Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, as a disturbing attempt.
The violence during the car festival of Sri Sakthi Kaliamman Temple at Pottireddipatti village, in Namakkal district on May 24, had left eight Dalits seriously injured.
A Dalit woman, Pappathi, who sustained a deep cut in the forehead in the violence, says that Arunthathiyars built a temple of their own since they were denied entry to the village temple by upper caste Hindus.
Similarly, violence broke out on May 26 during the annual festival of Sri Periya Mariamman Temple at Kannankurichi, near Salem. G. Suresh, a Dalit was the chairman of the temple controlled by the HR and CE.
The police had to disperse upper caste Hindus and bring the temple under lock and key.
Mr. Subash, a former headmaster, says the violence was unleashed by people who could not tolerate him as the board chairman. “The entire village, however, support me,” he says.
On March 28, houses of 10 Dalits were damaged following clashes during the festival of Sri Santhapettai Selliamman Temple at Sankagiri. Dhandapani, a Dalit, was attacked when he attended the Samabandhi bojan at a temple at Karamadai, near Mettupalayam.
Huts of Dalits were burnt when violence broke out at the temple festival in T. Edayapatti village in Karur taluk during 2008.
A recent study on Dalits being discriminated against in temples in 85 village panchayats in southern districts by the Madurai-based ‘Evidence' says that since May 2009 Dalits are being denied entry into temples in 69 village panchayats.
Temple cars would not be drawn inside Dalit colonies in 54 panchayats. Clashes were reported from 49 panchayats during festivals.
‘Evidence' wants the government to enact a special act to end the discrimination against Dalits at places of worship and ensure them the right to worship.