Dalits enter temple near Cheyyar with police protection

Officials facilitate entry after negotiations with caste Hindus fail

October 27, 2016 12:00 am | Updated December 02, 2016 11:59 am IST - Tiruvannamalai:

Girls from the Dalit neighbourhood of Namandi village near Cheyyar return after offering prayers at the Thulukkanathamman temple.

Girls from the Dalit neighbourhood of Namandi village near Cheyyar return after offering prayers at the Thulukkanathamman temple.

Officials upheld the doctrine of equality that is enshrined in the Constitution when they escorted about 60 Dalit people of Namandi village in Cheyyar taluk on Tuesday night to Thulukkanathamman temple located nearby that was all along been forbidden for them.

Though the temple is technically located in Hariharpakkam village, it is in the vicinity of the Dalit neighbourhood of Namandi. But the Dalits have never been able to go to the century-old temple as they were denied entry into the temple by the Vanniyars in the Hariharappakkam.

A handful of Dalit youths led by B. Sudhakar petitioned the District Collector by July this year to help them enter the temple and worship. T. Prabu Shankar, Sub Collector of Cheyyar, convened a series of peace meetings in an attempt to make the Vanniyars’ understand that one section of people could not be denied their right to enter the temple based on caste. Though the temple is managed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department of the Tami lNadu government since 1988, Vanniyars claimed that the temple belonged to them and they could not alter the social order of not allowing Dalits into the temple, official sources said.

As the talks failed to fructify, the officials decided to give protection to the Dalits willing to enter the temple. Amid a posse of police personnel, revenue and HR&CE officials, the Dalits entered the temple. Earlier, officials had to break open the illegally locked gates of the temple.

Sudhakar, a mechanic, said that they experienced extreme agony when they had to stop outside the temple in their neighbourhood when their classmates from the caste Hindu families entered the temple for worship. He said that during temple festivals, there would be some 10,000 devotees from faraway places who wished to visit the temple but could not step into the premises.

“When we entered the temple on Tuesday, tears trickled from my eyes. We felt as if we got freedom just then. I cannot express our feeling of the moment in words. Government officials have been fair to us and gave protection and support to enter the temple. We thank them. However, from midday on Wednesday, Vanniyars have been active in mobilising themselves against this temple entry that is somewhat terrifying. At present, the police is here and we feel safe,” he added.

Sub Collector Prabu Shankar who dealt with the issue on the ground told The Hindu : “When the Dalits of Namandi petitioned seeking to help them enter the temple, initially we wanted to sort it out amicably in order to protect social harmony. Hence, we called for peace meetings and asked the people from Hariharapakkam to give up their objection to the entry of Dalits. But since they were not willing to budge, we fulfilled our duty to ensure equal right for Dalits to enter temple . The petitioners waited patiently, keeping faith in law until we made arrangements”.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.