In a shocking incident, the Kattuppasathy Madasamy temple in Sammenkulam village in Tenskasi town of Tamil Nadu was destroyed by the local police, following a complaint by the radical Islamists in the area, reported The Organiser. The Hindu temple, built on a privately owned Patta land, was revered by the Nadar community. The community which is primarily into business and agriculture occupation would conduct poojas and religious festivals annually at the temple. But, in the Muslim-dominated Tenskasi district, the Hindus have been at the receiving end of the apathy of the police, administration, and the facade of communal harmony.
As per locals, radical extremists from Popular Front of India (PFI), Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI), and other Muslim organisations objected to the temple’s renovation work. They claimed that it affected the privacy of Muslim women living in the vicinity. After taking cognisance of the matter, the district administration and the police bulldozed the temple without following due process. Meanwhile, the protests by the Hindus fell on deaf ears.
Pacchaimaal, the son of village head Subbaiah Nadar, had complained about the matter to the District Magistrate. Reportedly, there are 160 Hindu Nadars in the village but they are outnumbered by the Muslims. He said that his community members were illiterate and worked in the agricultural sector for a living. Pacchaimaal said that they had a forest deity temple and would change the earthen base with a new one in the month of Chitrai.
Police in Tenkasi, Tamil Nadu demolished newly constructed Temple on private land bcz Mslims, the majority in particular area didn’t want it there— Scar (@Ra_c7r) June 12, 2020
Sad state of secularism in India, Churches & Mosques can be made on govt land but they can’t even tolerate Temple on private land pic.twitter.com/C11UKbKNd4
Allegations of Police High Handedness
Amidst the nationwide lockdown that was imposed in the wake of the Coronavirus outbreak, the festivals had to be cancelled this year. But, the Nadar community had to change the earthen base to protect the existing ones from being eroded during the rainy season. As such, they put up a cement structure at the temple site.
But, radical Islamists objected to the renovation work, claiming that it would give an opportunity to the devotees to stare at their women taking a bath. Pacchaimaal, who said that Hindus lived in harmony with the Muslims in the area, conceded, “Being the majority, they objected and complained to the district administration and police. Within no time, the police descended on the village with JPCs and razed our temple ignoring all our pleas.”
He added that there was no restriction on having the temple on the Patta land and that his family members were the ‘hereditary trustees.’ Pacchaimaal informed that the authorities were reluctant to listen to the Hindus and refused to consider the fact that the Nadar community had been worshipping at the said temple for generations. The cops justified their move by claiming that the temple was on a Promboke land and that no permissions were obtained for the same.
Allegations of Muslim Appeasement
Reportedly, the Nadar community felt that the district administration and the police authorities wanted to ‘please the Muslims.’ The incident also legitimises allegations against AIAMDK and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapadi Palaniswamy that he is trying to please the Muslim vote bank, ahead of the assembly polls that are scheduled for the following year. Hindu Maha Sabha leader Tha. Balasubramaniam has assured to rebuild the demolished temple in a grand manner. Several other Hindu organsiations such as Hindu Munnani had also come forward in support of the Hindus in the area.
Pacchaimaal emphasised that they neither encroached upon any government property nor started new construction. He informed that only renovation work was underway at the temple site. He warned that since a mere complaint by the majority Muslim community led to the demolition of the temple, it might have repercussions from the Hindu community. “We assure you that none will be affected by our temple. Only some with connection with fundamental outfits want to destroy communal harmony and hide the truth. We request the authorities to allow us to build a temple on our Patta land immediately” he was quoted as saying.
Bharat Mata Statue Controversy
This is not the first time that such an incident has come to light from the State of Tamil Nadu. A controversy had erupted after a Christian missionary organisation Christians of the Church of South India (CSI) filed an objection over the statue of Bharat Mata with Kanyakumari police claiming that the statue was hurting their “religious sentiments”. After their complaint, the Kanyakumari Police had covered the statue, causing outrage amongst the villagers.
The incident sparked off protests as members of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Hindu Munnani, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and other villagers staged demonstrations and later removed the cover. The protest was spearheaded by BJP leader Tarun Vijay and local RSS Swayamsevaks who later secured an order from the District Collector to reinstate the Bharat Mata statue to the original position.