Madurai: After a decade-long struggle, Dalits at Panthapuli village in Tirunelveli district entered the Kannanallur Mariamman temple with help of district officials defying a ban imposed by caste Hindus.
Dalits led by District Collector G Prakash and Superintendent of Police Asra Garg, entered the temple at Panthapuli near Sankarankovil on Wednesday.
Though the caste Hindus resented the entry, they did not, however, make any effort to resist the move, apparently due to stern warning issued by Prakash.
The Collector has initiated speedy steps to take over the temple by the Hindu Religious and Charitable endowment Board. In order to prevent untoward incidents, police had been deployed in adequate numbers in the sensitive areas.
The temple, which was closed for nearly ten years due to conflict between Dalits and upper castes, has been opened and poojas would be performed on regular basis by all, officials said.
A section of the caste Hindu families resisted the entry of Dalits in the past even though the local munsiff court permitted them to enter the temple. Due to tension, both Dalits and the caste Hindus left their homes in the village and settled in nearby hills. The issue gained prominence after the CPM state unit recently threatened to take Dalits inside the temple. On December17, 200 CPM volunteers courted arrested, trying to enter the temple.
After this, the district administration initiated steps to facilitate the entry of Dalits into the temple.
“It is all government show now, they have done what we threatened to do”, said a local CPM leader.