CHURCH And Caste War reaches Courts

Take church cars through dalit areas in Eraiyur,says HC

Chennai: The Madras high court has directed Vanniyar Christians in Eraiyur village in Villupuram to ensure that a procession carrying a statue of Jebamalai Matha (Our Lady of Rosary) passes through streets inhabited by dalit Christians during their ongoing annual festival.
Disposing of a petition from Eraiyur village dalit Christians,Justice D Hariparanthaman said it really shocked ones conscience that the statues were not being taken through of dalit habitations.I am of the view that it amounts to practising untouchability,which is prohibited under Article 17 of the Constitution, he observed.
He noted that pursuant to a trial court order,the procession was taken out through dalit streets in the same village in May 2009.He directed the superintendent of police,Villupuram,to give adequate police protection to the procession.
The festival is being held from May 21 to 31.The Eraiyur church was gripped by controversy last year over charges that the dominant Vanniyar Christians discriminated against dalits.Two persons were killed in police firing during a protest in March 2009 as a result of this caste divide.
The dalit Christian group had originally filed a petition before the principal district munsiff court,Ulundurpet,seeking various forms of relief,including a direction to the Archbishop of Puducherry-Cuddalore,the Eraiyur Our Lady of Rosary Church parish priest and the Vanniyar Christian section of the congregation to take the procession of three cars carrying the statues if Jebamalai Matha and St Anthony through dalit areas during the festival.
The court granted the order,but the Vanniyar Christians filed a revision petition in the high court.The HC dismissed the petition and also made it clear that no fresh application need be filed for a similar order for the May 2010 festival.
The high court also directed the trial court to dispose of the case pending before it within two weeks.However,the Ulundurpet court did not do so within the period.On April 30,it adjourned the matter to May 31.Aggrieved by this,dalit Christians approached the high court with a criminal revision petition.


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