The standoff over the right to perform pujas at Sri Nanjundeswarar Temple at Nanjanad, a Badaga village has been there since 1987.

Two persons were killed and six injured in a group clash on Sunday night over a dispute about right to perform pujas at Sri Nanjundeswarar Temple at Nanjanad, a Badaga village near Udhagamandlam.

The standoff over the right to perform pujas has been there since 1987.

The deaths led to the torching of some houses in retaliation. Twenty-one persons were arrested in connection with the attack. Prohibitory orders are in force in the village. The contention of the group comprising a majority of the residents in the village was that only those with a particular lineage had the traditional right to enter the sanctum sanctorum. The smaller group maintained that it had equal rights.

In May 1988, the Revenue Divisional Officer of Coonoor had put in place an arrangement by which both the groups could perform pujas at different times in the morning and evening. The smaller group then moved the High Court,. which ruled that the arrangement of the revenue authorities should be followed till the two groups solved the problem.

In 2011, the smaller group, headed by S. Sivaraman, performed a puja with police protection.

Police sources told The Hindu that when a meeting of the group that moved the court was in progress in a building around midnight, Anand (33) and Ravichandran (45) of the group that opposed the court order had gone there. After an exchange of words, the two were allegedly hit on the head with brass lamps. They died on way to hospital.

Those who rushed to the spot on hearing the commotion were also assaulted. As word spread, many houses belonging to the smaller group were damaged and a few of them were set ablaze.

Police said five persons from the bigger group and one belonging to the other group were undergoing treatment at the Government Headquarters Hospital here.

Twenty-one persons belonging to the group that moved the court, including Sivaraman and four women, were arrested.

Cases under various Sections, including 302 (murder), of the Indian Penal Code were registered against them.

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