VILLUPURAM: The air is tense in Sankarapuram in Villupuram district since Sunday, after caste Hindus prevented Dalits from taking a funeral procession through the public road when a pooja was on at a local temple. Though the local police acted swift and stern to ensure that the funeral took place without any incident, the tension is palpable in the neighbourhood.
Incidentally, Seshasamudram village where caste Hindus and Dalits clashed few months ago over a temple car procession is in the same taluk.
According to sources, Sengan (80) of Melapattu Colony area near Sankarapuram died on Sunday morning. He has been staying in his house near the farmland along with his wife Arayi and three sons, Vandikaran, Sadaiyan and Murugesan.
Citing a shakthi pooja that Melmaravathur devotees from the village had planned, the caste Hindus in the neighbourhood said they would not allow the funeral procession pass through the road, the only access way to reach the cemetery, and asked his sons to bury him in the land near their farm.
Though they agreed initially, Sengan’s sons took the body to the cemetery as a procession in the evening. But when they tried to enter the road where the pooja was ongoing, caste Hindus stopped the procession and said they will not allow them to proceed further.
Tension prevailed when the relatives of the deceased insisted that they would take the body through that road.
After receiving the alert about the situation growing tense, local police from Sankarapuram rushed to the spot and tried to pacify both parties. However, both sides stuck to their stands.
In the meanwhile, Tirukoilur DSP R Geetha who reached there talked to the representatives of Dalit and caste Hindu communities. She warned that it was an offence to stop the funeral procession, and asked the caste Hindu villagers to allow it to pass. She also talked tough to the leaders of the Dalit community, warning them not to create any trouble.
Finally, they agreed to stop the pooja for a while when the funeral procession passed through to reach the cemetery with police protection.
However, speaking to Express, DSP Geetha downplayed the incident, maintaining that this was not a caste issue. “A few persons under the influence of liquor have created the issue, but they have gone quiet after the police warned them strictly. Then the procession went on the usual road and reached the cemetery where the funeral took place without any incident,” she said. She noted that there never were such caste tensions in the village in the past.
Police have been deployed in the area.