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Overzealous priests beat up policemen

india Updated: Mar 04, 2008 02:53 IST
G C Shekhar
G C Shekhar
Hindustan Times
Natarajar Temple

Eleven Priests of the famous Natarajar Temple of Chidambaram town, were arrested for assaulting police officials on Sunday.

Belonging to the Brahmin sect ‘Dikshitars’, the priests conduct pujas in the temple and claim to be its traditional safe keepers. Trouble started when they stopped a Tamil devotee from singing Thevaram Tamil hymns to Lord Siva. The Dikshitars say only Sanskrit slokas can be chanted in front of the sanctum sanctorum.

However, Arumugaswamy, a saivite devotee, had got a high court order directing the temple administration to let him sing Thevaram in front of the sanctum sanctorum. But the temple commissioner had notified police, who were present on Sunday when Arumaugaswamy and his followers arrived.

A group of Dikshitars blocked his entry and when the police tried to clear the way they clashed with them. A few Diskhitars caught hold of SP Pradeep Kumar by his shirt and pushed him down while others threw water packets as ASP Senthivelan tried to take Arumugaswamy to a small mandap opposite the sanctum sanctorum.

When the saivite started signing the Thevaram, another group of Diskhitars stood in front of the deity preventing him from a darshan. Arumaugaswamy, claimed that since he could not view the deity, he wanted another chance. But when he arrived in the evening, some of his followers got involved in a scuffle with the police resulting in lathicharge after a constable was hit by a stone.