Tension gripped Walajapet town after a face off between caste Hindus and dalits over the construction of a compound wall around the Sri Padavedu Amman Temple in the area.
Commercial establishments in the town remained closed and autorickshaws were off the roads till late afternoon throwing normal life out of gear. However, the tension eased towards the evening.
The police has deployed around 50 personnel to check picketing in and around the temple and public places in the town to avert any untoward incidents.
The compound was became the bone of contention between the two communities after some residents of Ambekar Nagar created a flutter over the construction during the temple festival held two weeks ago. While a section of them, predominantly caste Hindus, staged a road blockade, another group, mostly dalits, allegedly damaged a portion of the wall on August 19.
Sources in the police department said that the was was put up following a decision taken at a peace meeting held on July 12. “All the 18 families living in Ambedkar Nagar agreed on the decision to construct the wall. The revenue officials and temple administration decided to allocate a stretch of 22 feet of temple land to serve as common passage for the residents of Ambedkar Nagar to reach the other side,” said the police official. “The political outfits instigated the dalits and ignited the issue,” he added.
On Tuesday, the issue snowballed into a controversy leading to unrest in the town. While the residents of Ambedkar Nagar vehemently opposed the construction of the compound wall, the caste Hindus were firm on going ahead with the decision to reconstruct it.
Revenue Divisional Officer (in-charge) of Ranipet, G Kumar, inspected the temple and the residential area of dalits and held a separate meeting with both the dalits and caste Hindus to appease them.
“The dalits are demanding not to construct the compound wall as they have been using the land as an approach road for several years. They also wanted the administration of the temple to be handed over to them,” said Kumar.
On the other hand, the caste Hindus and members of the temple administration condemned the demolition the compound wall, he said, adding, “The caste Hindus want to reconstruct the compound wall. We have decided to hold a peace committee meeting within the next few days to achieve an amicable solution on the issue.”
“We have deployed 10 police personnel in the temple and also engaged a mobile team to patrol the sensitive areas at night,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police of Arakkonam, S Seetharaman.
He said the situation was returning to normal after two days of tension. “We have registered a case against a section of dalits for damaging the temple compound wall and a case against the caste Hindus for staging road blockade on Tuesday,” he added.