At Nallamuthu Amman Temple under the control of Dalit families

The Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday restrained Tirunelveli Collector and Executive Officer of North Valliyoor special grade panchayat from constructing a ration shop on the premises of Nallamuthu Amman Temple under the control of Dalit families.

A Division Bench comprising Justices V. Ramasubramanian and V.M. Velumani granted the interim injunction on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by R. Sollalagan (73), general secretary of Ambedkar Makkal Iyakkam, through his counsel D. Saravanan.

According to the petitioner, the Dalits and Caste Hindus in the village do not enjoy a good relationship and there had been clashes between them. People belonging to different castes had temples exclusively for them. Recently, the Executive Officer of the panchayat decided to locate a fair price shop on the premises of a temple under the control of Dalits. Fearing caste clashes, the petitioner filed a writ petition before the court early this year.

The petition was disposed of in January with a direction to the officer to consider a representation made by the petitioner on its merits. Accordingly, the officer considered the plea and rejected it on February 18.

Accusing the officer of attempting to locate the ration shop on the premises of the temple at the instigation of Caste Hindus, the petitioner claimed that the officer’s move was akin to adding fuel to the fire.

He also claimed that a Member of Legislative Assembly, S. Michael Royappan, had agreed to fund the construction of the proposed ration shop. “Though an MLA funding a project is a welcome idea, it would affect the peace and harmony prevailing among the villagers,” he said.

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