Tension gripped a village in this Tamil Nadu district on Monday after a Hindu temple was thrown open to Dalits on the orders of the Madras High Court, prompting the protesting upper caste Vanniyar community to leave the village, officials said.
Trouble arose after a temple dedicated to Hindu goddess Draupadi in Kandampatti village was opened to Dalits on Monday on the orders of the court after being locked up for nine months due to a dispute with the upper castes over temple entry, police sources said.
"The Dalits are celebrating their being able to pray in the temple after a long time following the orders of the Madras High Court. But the Vanniyars are upset as they feel their hold over the 300-year-old shrine is lost forever and they have shifted to another temple temporarily with all belongings," a police official said.
Heavy security under the supervision of police commissioner V Perumal has been ordered in and around the temple.
Situated 300 km southwest of capital Chennai, this district famous for its textiles is sharply divided between Dalits and upper caste Hindus of the Vanniyar community, who identify themselves as Gounders.
Sharp divisions between the upper caste Hindus and Dalits had accentuated May 6 near Madurai 200 km southeast of here when a "wall of shame" separating them had been demolished after nearly 18 years.
Upper caste Hindus had left their village in protest in a similar fashion for several days before being coaxed back.