In a historic move, on 30 January, Dalits in Thenmudiyanur village in Tiruvannamalai, Tamil Nadu entered the Muthumariamman temple for the first time in almost eight decades since it was built. This was despite the protests staged by caste Hindus from different communities.
In contrast, a purported video of DMK Salem South Union Secretary T Manickam verbally abusing a Dalit youth for entering a temple in Salem district of Tamil Nadu went viral, on Monday. Manickam was suspended from the DMK and a case was registered booking him under Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
But what happened in Salem? The incident occurred in Salem’s Thirumalaigiri, where a Dalit youth, on 19 January, had entered a temple allegedly maintained by the Vanniyar community. According to sources, the Temple comes under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE).
In the purported video, the DMK functionary Manickam, who is also the Panchayat leader, is heard hurling insults at the Dalit boy.
He is heard saying:
"How dare you enter the temple without permission. From whom did you take permission to enter the temple? Do you think you are smart? You and your father would not be able to reside in this village, be careful."
What was the penalty? Although it has been a week since the incident occurred, no complaint had been filed so far. According to the latest reports, the DMK has suspended Manickam for "acting against the party's policies and bringing a bad image to the party." Meanwhile, Manickam was booked by Salem police under the Prevention of Atrocities Act on 30 January.
Manickam told India Today that the Dalit youth was drunk and created a ruckus during a temple function. When asked if Dalits were not permitted on the temple premises, Manickam denied any such restrictions.