A move by Tamil Nadu police to cover the statue of Bharat Mata inside a private temple premises at Puliyur village in the State has sparked off a controversy.
The incident has led to protests by cadres of Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), Hindu Munnani, and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), who later removed the cover.
The police move has also led to strong reaction from BJP Rajya Sabha members Tarun Vijay and K J Alphons, who have sought the intervention of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister (CM) Edappadi K Palaniswami in the issue.
According to local media reports, the Bharat Mata statue was inside a 200-year-old Isakki Amman (Durga) temple in Puliyur village. Recently, a family of a daily worker Muthu Kumar had erected the Bharat Mata statue and adorned.
However, Christians of the Church of South India (CSI) living in the vicinity complained that the statue affected their “religious sentiments”. This led to the district superintendent of police asking his personnel to cover the statue. The local sub-inspector of police asked the locals to remove the statue or face action.
The sub-inspector, in his letter to the temple owner on 20 May, said the statue had been installed without permission from the village administrative officer (VAO) or the panchayat.
He said the police had received complaints from the people on the installation of the statue and it had to be removed. The installation was also against the recommendations of the Venugopal Commission to install a statue without Government permission.
On 21 May, police covered the statue with a blue cloth resulting in BJP, Hindu Munnani, and RSS cadres staging a protest the next day.
They removed the cover, garlanded the Bharat mata statue and worshipped it. A Hindu Munnani leader wondered how police could take action without any complaint from the VAO.
Police, too, could not respond to their queries, especially the basis for taking action in covering the statue, the leader said.
The temple owner has now lodged a written complaint against the police action, while all the three organizations have decided to complain against the deputy superintendent of police.
According to the 2011 Census, Christians make up 46.85 per cent of the population in Kanyakumari and Hindus 48.65 with Muslims making up the rest.
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