K Radhakrishnan, who hails from a Scheduled Caste community, said the priests at the temple placed a lighted lamp on the ground instead of handing it over to him during a function.
In a recent development, the Dharmaraja Draupadi Amman temple located in Melpathi village, Viluppuram district, Tamil Nadu, has been sealed following a heated dispute between upper- caste individuals and a person from the Dalit community who attempted to enter the temple. The
controversy led to protests and unrest, prompting the involvement of higher authorities. After nearly one and a half months of ongoing tension, the revenue team, under the orders of Revenue Commissioner Ravichandran, took action to seal the temple premises and deployed police to ensure public safety.
Background and the Temple Controversy:
The village of Melapathi, situated in Villapuram, Tamil Nadu, became the center of the dispute when a Dalit man visited the temple in April of this year, causing discontent among upper-caste members. This led to a prohibition on Dalit entry into the temple, resulting in multiple instances of tension between the two communities. Both sides filed four First Information Reports (FIRs) regarding the incidents. Despite several attempts by the district administration to mediate and
resolve the issue peacefully, an agreement could not be reached. Consequently, the decision was made to seal the temple.
Sealing of the Temple and Restriction on Entry:
The Revenue Board officer, S Ravichandran, utilized section 145(1) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) to officially seal the temple premises due to the ongoing controversy. The temple,
managed by the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment (HR&CE) Department, has reportedly been subject to discrimination against Dalits by some members of the temple
management and village residents, leading to their exclusion from worship. Despite repeated efforts to facilitate dialogue and reconciliation, the deadlock persisted, prompting the authorities to take action and impose restrictions on entry to the temple. An official notice posted on the temple gate explained the situation and temporarily prohibited access until the matter is resolved to prevent any potential law and order issues.
Efforts for Resolution and Tense Situation:
The district collector and other party leaders, including Villupuram MP D Ravikumar, submitted a memorandum to the District Collector Seeplani, urging unbiased access to the temple for all visitors without any caste-based discrimination. Meanwhile, police personnel have been deployed in large numbers at the site to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incidents. Although tensions remain high, the situation is currently under control. This incident echoes a case of untouchability that occurred last year in Thanjavur district. The owner of a barbershop was arrested for refusing to serve individuals belonging to Scheduled Castes, resulting in charges under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.