Villupuram: Members of the Dalit community took to the streets here on Monday, demanding that they be allowed to proceed with the ritual of pulling a temple car along a particular stretch, in view of the Aadi festivities at Sesasamudhram village. Their three-hour road blockade brought traffic to a grinding halt in Sankarapuram as the vehicular pile-up extended for kilometres along the stretch. The temple car procession has been a bone of contention between the caste Hindus and Dalits at Sesasamudhram village.
“During the local body polls last year, a village panchayat presidential candidate, a caste Hindu, assured the Dalits that he would give funds to build a temple car for the Amman shrine located in a Dalit area of the village. As per his assurance, he donated a temple car. Now, in view of the festival, we were planning to pull the temple car along a public road at our village, but caste Hindus are opposing this,” claimed a Dalit resident of Sesasamudhram.
This was said to be the first time that members of both communities were involved in a dispute as no such problems have been reported from the village till date. It has been alleged that the issue was propagated by a section of caste Hindus following a poll-related dispute.
Members of the Dalit community took to the streets demanding that they be allowed to proceed with the ritual.
Intervening in the issue, officials from the revenue department recently held two rounds of talks with sub-collector Vivekanandhan and tashildar Arputhasamy, a Sankarapuram resident. After the talks concluded on August 4, the officials ordered that the temple car procession be put on hold as the new car did not have a ‘stability certificate’. Further, the particular stretch was damaged and could not be used for the procession, the officials reasoned.
However, sources claimed that the officials arrived at this decision as they feared that the law and order in the region would be disrupted. On Monday, the day when the procession was supposed to be held, the Dalit residents from the village, along with cadre of the VCK, staged a road-roko, demanding permission to pull the temple car along the particular stretch. The agitation was led by VCK State general secretary Chinthanai Selvan.
Later, sub-collector Vivekanandhan and DSP Prabhakaran held peace talks with the protestors at the Sankarapuram taluk office. The officials assured that the stay order on the event would be reconsidered.