Caste Hindus of Panthapuli near Sankarankovil, who left their hamlet in protest against the preparations being made by the Dalits to celebrate the village temple festival, continued their agitation for the second day on Monday.
Following differences of opinion between the Dalits and caste Hindus of Panthapuli over offering prayers in the 100-year old Kannanallur Mariamman Temple, the Dalits, who were allegedly prevented from entering the place of worship, filed a case against it in 2000. Though the trial court at Sankarankovil gave its verdict in favour of the Dalits, the respondents filed an appeal, which is pending before the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court.
The problem resurfaced again this year when the Dalits prepared to conduct the temple festival, in the face of opposition from caste Hindus, who argue that no festival should be conducted till the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court delivered its verdict. As a mark of protest, caste Hindu families left Panthapuli with their cattle shortly before Sunday noon and moved to Yettisery hillock. District officials say they will not intervene to persuade the villagers to give up the protest. “It is an agitation planned and executed by a section of the villagers of Panthapuli. Hence, there is no need for us to intervene,” said a revenue official.