Two caste groups clash at Thaniyamangalam near Melur

Caste tensions are threatening to snowball in the wake of sporadic clashes between Dalits and caste Hindus.

A kabaddi match resulted in a clash between Kallars (caste Hindus) and Dalits at Thaniyamangalam, under Melur taluk in the district, on March 29. It remains on the boil to this day.

The hostility spilled over into this year’s Sathayyanar Temple festival leading to violence between the two groups.

Sources said that a group of caste Hindu youth from Tirumangalam, visiting Thaniyamangalam on motorcycles, were intercepted by local Dalit youth.

This led to violence and counter-violence, resulting in Dalit houses being attacked in Muthuramalingampatti.

Police arrested 10 persons from both groups and cases were booked under the Indian Penal Code Sections 147, 148, 427, Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act 1992 and Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes, Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.

Meanwhile, Aatral Arasu, organising secretary of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, alleged that the dispute was over control of the Ayyanar Temple, the deity of which was earlier jointly worshipped by both Dalits and caste Hindus. The two groups had been caught up in a row over the ownership of the temple, with the Dalits being prevented from worshipping there.

The Dalits conducted their own rituals at the Pandiamman Temple, but were prevented from taking out a procession through the village square.

Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan said that the police had ensured that caste animosities did not spiral out of control. He said the Dalits would be protected in their efforts to organise their temple festival.

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