A seven-foot ‘untouchability wall’ that stood around a village temple was pulled down by Tiruvallur district administration in the early hours of Monday amidst tight security with the consent of villagers in Thokkamour of Arambakkam taluk.
The wall was built in 2016 in the village located along the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border. The wall was constructed around Droupadi Amman temple adjacent to a settlement of 200 Dalit families residing on a two-acre land in Thokkamour, located around 60 km from Chennai.
The revenue officials said the wall was constructed between government land and Scheduled Castes habitation in 2016 for flood mitigation and for holding festivals. A couple of months ago, the people from the Dalit colony alleged that the wall was discriminatory and that it should be demolished.
The area adjacent to the temple is inhabited by Dalits and they alleged that they could not access many places due to the wall. They also said that rainwater entered their houses during the monsoon.
However, people from the MBC and BC communities said the wall was constructed with the consensus of all communities to give more space for festivals around the temple.
Tiruvallur District Collector Alby John Varghese told The Hindu, "A few months ago, people from SC habitation felt that it was discriminatory and should be removed. The Revenue Divisional Officer and Tahsildar held peace committee meetings. We have peacefully demolished the wall with the consent of all. Both sides were convinced that it was in the best interest of communities."
On Monday morning, earthmovers and other materials were pressed into service. Police personnel were deployed to prevent any untoward incident. Villagers also asked the officials to remove a fence that was erected recently near the wall.