The sanctity of the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram was violated last Thursday when thousands of PMK cadres clambered on to it and hoisted flags of the party and Vanniyar Sangham.
In the process, the structure of the seventh century AD monument, one of 32 at the World Heritage site, could have been weakened.
The fences were uprooted, and the lawn and entrance gate damaged, sources in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) said.
PMK supporters had gathered at the Shore Temple for a public meeting as part of the annual Vanniyar Sangham conference that coincides with Chitra Pournami.
ASI sources said it had the authority to give or refuse permission only within the site area. The conference was conducted on the southern end of the World Heritage site.
“The structure of the shore temple has weakened due to years of onslaught from sea wind. Dozens of Vanniyar Sangham workers and PMK men walked all over the premises, climbed up the temple and hoisted six flags. During last year’s conference, they acted in a similar fashion at the temple,”
G. Maheshwari, superintending archaeologist, ASI (Chennai Circle), told The Hindu. “We have written to the DGP about the damage to the structure,” she added.
On April 15, the ASI (Chennai Circle) had written to the Kancheepuram revenue and police authorities seeking adequate police protection for the monuments on the day of the conference.
The ASI said the police and the District Collector did not provide adequate security. Only six policemen were deployed. Even they were withdrawn at around 11 a.m. for duty elsewhere in the district.
ASI sources said that at around 11 a.m, thousands of PMK men forcibly entered the premises by breaking the lock on the Shore Temple gate. A team led by A.Jellani Bashir, senior conservation archaeologist, rushed to the spot and requested the men to leave. They, however, engulfed the temple premises. “We had to stop issuing tickets to tourists as the entire temple was filled with PMK men. They also hoisted their party flag on the Pallava-era lighthouse, a protected monument and part of the heritage site,” said an ASI official.