Fifty-six residents of Thuvarankurichi courted arrest while attempting to stage a protest demanding that the office of the new Marungapuri taluk, which became functional along with the Srirangam Revenue Division on Tuesday, be located in their town.

Protesting the decision of the authorities to establish the office of the new taluk temporarily at T.Kallupatti, along the Tiruchi-Madurai National Highway, a group of residents of Thuvarankurichi attempted to take out a procession against the move.

Although permission was denied to them for holding a black flag demonstration, the agitators, attired in black and tying black ribbons on their mouth, assembled near the Bhoothanayaki Amman Temple in the town with the intention of taking out a procession on Tuesday morning. Police took them into preventive custody and moved them to a marriage hall in the town. All those detained were released by evening. The location of the office of the newly formed Marungapuri taluk in the district had become a bone of contention among residents of different villages in the taluk.

While the creation of the new taluk by bifurcating the Manapparai taluk has been largely welcomed, there have been pulls and pressures from different villages on the question of where the taluk headquarters should be located. While residents of Marungapuri demanded that the office should be established in their village, those in neighbouring Thuvarankurichi, a town panchayat, have been insisting that the office should ideally be located in their town.

Residents of both places have been conducting various agitations and have also been lobbying hard with the government. While Marungapuri residents say that the taluk office at Kallupatti was 3 km away from their village, people of Thuvarankurichi say that it was 7 km away for them. Residents of M.Kallupatti supported the establishment of the office at T.Kallupatti.

“Thuvarankurichi is the largest of the 49 village panchayats in the new taluk. Thirty-two panchayats, besides the town panchayat, have passed resolutions favouring the establishment of the taluk office at Thuvarankurichi,” claimed A.P.K.Venkatesan, union secretary of the Bharathiya Janata Party, one of the persons who was detained by the police.

District Collector Jayashree Muralidharan, when contacted, said that the taluk office will temporarily function at T.Kallupatti and no decision has been taken on the permanent location of the office.

Officials had called for talks with representatives of all three villages on Saturday. “Though people from Marungapuri and M.Kallupatti attended the talks, residents of Thuvarankurichi did not turn up,” Ms.Muralidharan said. Those who participated at the meeting, which went on till the early hours of Sunday, had agreed that the taluk office could function temporarily at T.Kallupatti , she said. Mr.Venkatesan claimed that the intimation, calling them for the talks, was given late on Saturday. But Ms.Muralidharan said officials had tried hard to persuade the villagers to come for talks over the past couple of days.

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