Over 150 temples have been demolished in Tamil Nadu since DMK, led by Chief Minister MK Stalin, came to power last May.
In what has raised many eyebrows, the authorities in Tamil Nadu demolished a 30-year-old temple but spared a church, saying the temple was constructed on encroached land.
The authorities demolished the Narasimha Anjaneyar temple in Varadharajapuram in Mudichur near Chennai on Monday (January 10). The video of the demolition went viral on different social media platforms. The authorities claimed the temple encroached upon the Adiyar riverbed. Warning strict action against those spreading rumours, Tambaram Police Commissioner M Ravi said a portion of the church was also demolished.
“Not just the temple, a portion of a church compound wall was also demolished as it was encroaching upon a water body. A case has also been registered based on Tahsildar’s complaint, and strict action will be taken against those who try to disrupt communal harmony,” he said.
After the encroachment notice was served to the temple’s trustees, they had requested time till Hanuman Jayanti, which will be celebrated this year on April 16, to which the authorities had granted permission. Kancheepuram Collector M. Arathi said, “They sought time till Hanuman Jayanti, which was granted.” It remains unclear why the authorities demolished the temple after granting time until Hanuman Jayanti to shift the idols.
In a similar case in July last year, the authorities in Tamil Nadu demolished a 125-year-old temple on the banks of Muthanankulam pond, claiming it was on encroached land. The Kamatchipuram Mutt led the protest from the front, arguing most of the Hindu temples were built on the banks of rivers, ponds, or lakes. This was done to ensure the devotees have access to water to take a bath or wash their legs and hands before entering the temples. So, it was no encroachment. But the Mutt could not save the temple from demolition.
In the name of the Smart Cities Mission, the Tamil Nadu Government has demolished hundreds of temples. The temples in Tamil Nadu are controlled by the HRCE (Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments) department of the Tamil Nadu Government. The Madras High Court had criticised the functioning of the HRCE many times in the past.
The Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) has been demanding that the temples be freed from government control.