Tamil Nadu

Dalits of Pazhag Kallimedu threaten to embrace Islam

Against discrimination:Dalits allege that they are not allowed to take part in rituals at Sri Badrakaliamman temple at Kallimedu.— Photo: A.Muralitharan  

The Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) Department, which controls Sri Badrakaliamman temple at Kallimedu near Vedaranyam, is keeping its fingers crossed as a group of Dalits of Pazhag Kallimedu have threatened to convert to Islam if they are not given mandagapadi (sponsoring a day’s event) rights as part of the temple festival.

Tension is palpable in the village after a group owing allegiance to the Thowheed Jamath visited the hamlet on learning about the threat issued by a section of Dalits. It is learnt that the Jamath team met at least six Dalits of the village and conveyed its moral support for the protest.

Since the situation is threatening to go out of control, a heavy posse of police has been deployed in the village. Policemen in plainclothes have been posted at all entrances of the village to monitor the movement of “outsiders.”

On Wednesday, a group of BJP leaders including S.K. Vedaratnam, who unsuccessfully fought the recent Assembly elections on a BJP ticket, met the aggrieved Dalits in a bid to assuage their feelings over the temple issue. They assured them that they would convince villagers belonging to other castes to give them the mandagapadi rights, which is scheduled to be held in the last week of the ongoing Tamil month of Aadi.

However, it is learnt that the leaders of caste Hindus had categorically rejected the reconciliation efforts of officials and others, leading to anxiety all around. Similarly, no headway has been made in the peace talks.

Dalits, who claim that the Sri Badrakaliamman temple was originally located in their hamlet until a few decades ago, are firm on their demand.

“We cannot accept excuses citing practice and custom as these were framed only recently according to their (caste Hindu) whims and fancies. It is unfair and we will continue to fight until we get the mandagapadi right,” says P. Achiammal (65) of Pazhag Kallimedu.

When contacted, a senior official of HR&CE Department told The Hindu that it was a complex issue and the department was making sincere efforts to find an amicable solution.

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Printable version | Apr 15, 2021 12:03:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Dalits-of-Pazhag-Kallimedu-threaten-to-embrace-Islam/article14513106.ece

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