Demolition of encroachments is criticised as Anti-Hindu by right-wingers.

DMK Government demolishes temples and a church in encroached land which is twisted as anti-Hindu activity.

Chepauk is the constituency of Udhayanidhi Stalin, Tamil Nadu’s Minister for Youth Welfare and Sports Development and also the son of the state’s Chief Minister M.K.Stalin. In Koyya Thoppu, the 63rd ward of the Chepauk-Triplicane area, 302 houses were built in 1973 by the then Tamil Nadu Slum Clearance Board during the tenure of then Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi. The Slum Clearance Board had been subsequently renamed as Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board.

Udhayanidhi Stalin, MLA from Chepauk constituency.

The residents of these houses had requested the government for demolition of the houses and rebuild them by citing that they have become 5 decades old and weak. The demolition of the houses began on the promise that the houses will be rebuilt in 18 months from the date of laying the foundation stone. There were some religious sites that were built by encroaching the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board’s land.

Madha Church, Ramar Temple built as encroachments

As part of the demolition, the encroachments such as the Devi Karumariyamman Temple, Madha Church & other places of worship were also demolished to make way for the construction of the houses. This demolition had been termed as anti-Hindu by A.T.Elangovan, the spokesperson of the Hindu Munnani, on Twitter.

 

He had also tweeted a video of the demolition of the temple on 14th March 2023 by claiming that demolition of the temples continue in the constituency of Udhayanidhi Stalin.

 

In his tweets, a letter dated 7 November 2022 supposedly from M.N.Vijayakumar to Superintendent Engineer of the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board requesting the temple to be not demolished, on the Hindu Munnani letterhead is found. This had been further reported on the right-wing sites such as Mediyaan and The Commune.

We contacted M.N.Vijaykumar through the number provided on the letter. The call was picked up by a person named Venkatesan. He said “I am Venkatesan from Perambur. I have been using this number for several years. I did not write any letter or give a complaint about any temple. I received a call some time ago from the DGP office too regarding this issue. I did not raise any complaint”. He denied being part of any organization. So, we conclude that the number mentioned in the letter is fake.

Following this, we contacted Senthil Muruga Jayakumar, the Assistant Executive Engineer of the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board. He said, “In that area, there were several religious sites such as Madha Church, Ramar Temple, Pillaiyar Temple, Devi Karumari Temple. They do not have land of their own. They were built in the land of the Tamil Nadu Urban Habitat Development Board. The land is now required to build houses for the people. So, they were demolished after giving proper intimation. Now, work is underway for construction of houses for the people.”

When we asked him about the Devi Karumariyamman Temple, he said “A man claiming to be the temple’s head (Dharmakartha) was with us during the demolition. We properly handed over the statues from the temple to the nearby Mariyamman Temple.” Senthil Muruga Jayakumar pointed out that a person called him regarding the temple and asked if he is a Hindu or Muslim and wanted to meet in person, but there was no further follow-up after that call. He shared the photos and videos taken during the demolition.

M.N.Vijayakumar (with coolers)

We contacted Hindu Munnani to enquire about the incident and the letter posted by A.T.Elangovan in their letterpad. After we pointed out that the number is wrong in the letter, they provided us the correct number of M.N.Vijayakumar, the head of the temple.

We contacted M.N.Vijayakumar through that number. He claimed that the land was given to Adi Andhrars during the British era. He also claimed “Initially, people worshipped with a small stone and then during the tenure of K.Kamaraj as the Chief Minister, houses were built in that area, leaving small area for the temple. During Karunanidhi’s regime in 1973, houses were built opposite to the temple.”

He continued “Now the temple is demolished to build new houses. Last November, we gave a letter to the officials demanding that the temple should not be demolished without intimating us. Few days before the demolition, Assistant Engineer and some officials came to intimate that the temple will be demolished as it was an encroachment in government land for all these years”.

When asked if he has any documents to prove that the land was given by the British to Adi Andhras, he responded that he doesn’t have any such proofs and they didn’t think it was necessary as it was a temple.

There were proper intimations given by the Government. The houses were demolished due to the request made by the people living in those houses for reconstruction as the buildings became old and weak. While demolishing the houses for reconstruction, the encroachments in the land were also demolished, which is a common practice throughout the country. Blaming the DMK Government as being Anti-Hindu using this issue seems politically motivated. Additionally, asking a Government servant if he is a Hindu or Muslim while he is doing his job to create further religious tensions is a worrying trend.

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Ramasamy Jayaprakash

Ramasamy works as a Senior Sub-Editor at YouTurn and writes articles in Tamil and English. He also makes videos for YouTurn's Tamil & English YouTube channels.
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