Dalits stopped from climbing hill for worship
Chennai: Police on April 14 stopped hundreds of Dalit Christians from climbing a hill to perform Good Friday services.
Chengalpet Sub-Collector V.P. Jeyaseelan said the incident was the return of a long-standing dispute between the residents of Sogandi and Alagusamudram over accessing a hillock between the two, which is noman’s land.
Jeyaseelan said the hill in Thirukazhukundram area has been declared a no-go area. The people of Sogandi had sought permission to worship at a shrine on the foot of the hill — also on poramboke land — and had been allowed to do so, but the situation got out of hand when they attempted to climb the hill.
“The Dalits of Sogandi had installed some statues on the hill, but we demolished them on December 31 after the caste Hindus of Alagusamudram opposed it,” said Jayaseelan. There had been a flare-up around Christmas last year. “We held two peace committee meetings, which did not yield amicable settlement. As a result, the Thirukazhukundram Tahsildar decided to impose status quo,” he said.
Jeyaseelan said that Sogandi already has a church within village land. “The people of Sogandi were also warned against trespass. According to them, they have been worshipping a structure constructed on the hill for over 10 years, and therefore, should be granted access,” he said.
The people of Sogandi met the District Revenue Officer and submitted two complaints against the Tahsildar. They alleged that the Tahsildar’s actions had hurt their sentiments.
A petition by A. Mani and R. Ramesh claimed that Dalit Christians of Sogandi had been worshipping on the hill for 50 years. “At 3 p.m on April 14, 500 of us were approaching the hill with crosses in our hand. About 200 police personnel stopped us from climbing the hill,” said the petition.