A large group of residents of Vellore took part in a demonstration organised by the Hindu Munnani, to protest the recent government takeover of the Jalakanteswar temple in Vellore Fort area, on Wednesday.
Protestors, led by the State secretary of the Munnani, S Velliappan, urged the HR & CE department to hand over the temple to devotees who had been maintaining it for over 35 years.
“This is our temple, we will not allow the government to step in; while churches and mosques are under the care of the respective communities, why should the government takeover temples from Hindus; drop the takeover move, quit Jalakanteswar temple,” were some of the slogans raised by protestors.
Further Velliappan questioned, “What was the government doing before the 1980s, when the temple was without a deity; why should it takeover the temple now after the deity has been installed by locals and the temple is attracting hundreds of devotees daily?”.
Other speakers at the demonstration said they would launch a series of peaceful agitations until the HR&CE department handed over the temple to the Hindu community.
Some of them said the temple issue would turn into a poll issue next year and should vote for parties that promise to abolish the HR&CE department.
Velliappan said a 50-member temple protection committee comprising local merchants, local elders, Hindu leaders and devotees had been been formed to decide the course of action in this regard. To begin, a week-long agitation has been planned by the committee.
On Thursday, locals would send mass telegrams, emails, and fax messages to the government, urging that the temples be released from HR&CE control.
This would be followed by a mass prayer with 1,008 lamps being lit at the temple on Friday. On Saturday, locals would wear black badges to display their anguish and protest against the takeover of the temple, Velliappan added further.
On Sunday, street meetings would be held in all the 60 wards to create awareness among the locals on the need to free the temple from government control.
On Monday, a fast agitation and signature campaign would be undertaken. After all these activities, if the State government does not heed the demand, the traders of the city will call for a bandh. In addition, possibilities were also being explored to stall the takeover move through the legal route, he added.