Staff Reporter

TIRUNELVELI: Dalits of Panthapuli village, who left their hamlet on last Tuesday to settle down in a nearby hillock demanding action against the “caste Hindus” of their village, commenced indefinite fast on Thursday.

The protestors said the “oppressive forces”, which denied permission for them to offer prayers in the Mariamman Temple in the village, were “intimidating” them.

“Hence, the Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment should take over the temple to ensure the entry of Dalits into the temple. Moreover, the government should guarantee our safety, which is under threat,” said the villagers, now camping at Kaarisaaththaan hillock.

Deputy Superintendent of Police (Protection of Civil Rights Wing) Mohan Nawaz held talks with the villagers till evening, but they refused to relent.

Meanwhile, seven villagers including eight-year-old S. Chellamani and six women were admitted to Kalingapatti Primary Health Centre for fever and other ailments. However, the protestors have called off their agitation following assurance from officials later.