Tamil Nadu— In recent developments in Tamil Nadu, two separate incidents of caste discrimination have come to light, resulting in the sealing of two temples by the authorities in a week. These incidents have sparked protests and raised concerns about the persistent issue of caste-based discrimination in the region.
The first incident took place in the Dharmaraja Draupadi Amman temple located in Melpathi village, Viluppuram district. On June 7, the temple was sealed after upper-caste individuals vehemently objected to the entry of people from the Dalit community.
The situation escalated when the upper castes began protesting directly at the temple gate. Despite several attempts by the district administration to mediate and find a peaceful resolution, the deadlock persisted, forcing the authorities to take action.
Revenue Commissioner Ravichandran issued the order to seal the temple under section 145(1) of the IPC (Indian Penal Code). An official notice was pasted on the temple gate, citing the disruption caused by the conflict and the prohibition on entry until the matter is resolved.
According to the details provided, the conflict arose in April when a man from the Dalit community worshiped at the temple, leading to tensions between the two communities. Both sides registered four cases against each other. Despite repeated efforts by the district administration to resolve the matter through peace talks, a consensus could not be reached, ultimately leading to the decision to seal the temple.
The second incident occurred at the Kaliyamman temple in Veeranampatti in Karur district on June 9. This temple, known for its significance, witnessed caste-based discrimination during an ongoing festival. The festival was celebrated by approximately 80 families from the Patialina community residing in Veeranampatti. However, around 200 families belonging to an upper-caste community, the majority in the village, repeatedly denied Dalits access to the temple.
The incident that triggered widespread outrage occurred on June 6 when a member of the Dalit community entered the temple and was forcibly removed by members of the upper-caste community, sparking a debate on the issue of temple entry.
Further fueling the controversy, an upper-caste individual was denied water when he requested it, further intensifying tensions. District Magistrate Muniraj intervened by visiting the village along with officials and warned against the denial of temple entry based on caste. The district administration made it clear that any caste-based discrimination would result in legal consequences under the SC/ST (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) Act, and the government would assume control of the temple, which was built on government land.
Despite these warnings, on June 8, the upper-caste Hindus once again prevented Dalits from entering the temple, leading to protests and a subsequent sealing of the temple by revenue department officials.
The incidents have drawn attention to the deep-rooted issue of caste discrimination prevalent in Tamil Nadu. Upper-caste individuals opposing the entry of Dalits into these temples highlights the need for broader social reforms to address caste-based inequalities. The sealing of the temples by the authorities serves as a temporary measure to maintain law and order in the affected areas and bring attention to the ongoing conflicts while a permanent solution could be attained only after initiating a mediation between the warring groups and ensuring equal access and opportunities for all devotees irrespective of their caste background.