Shiva Temple Land Taken On Lease In Tamil Nadu’s Palayamkottai Through Benami Deal, Devotees Want It Scrapped

Shiva Temple Land Taken On Lease In Tamil Nadu’s Palayamkottai Through Benami Deal, Devotees Want It Scrapped Palayamkottai Shiva temple
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  • The Palayamkottai Shiva temple controversy is among a slew of complaints of misuse of temple lands that are coming out in Tamil Nadu, of late.

A controversy has broken out over the lease of land belonging to a Lord Shiva temple in Tamil Nadu’s Palayamkottai town. A section of the devotees, led by the Hindu Munnani, are demanding its cancellation.

According to a devotee and temple activist Dr Latha Prasanna, the land of the Thiripuraanthakaeshwarar Temple has been taken on lease by a hotel owner Mohammed Ansari in a benami’s name.

Hindu Munnani’s Tamil Nadu Secretary K Kamalanathan told media that the land has been taken on lease in the name of a Hindu, Muthiah, before Ansari took over its possession.

Ansari runs a chain of non-vegetarian restaurants in Palayamkottai and the Hindu Munnani contends that temple lands cannot be used for such purposes.

The Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) provisions stipulate that temple lands cannot be used other than for purposes to serve Hindus and their welfare.

Muthiah, according to Hindu Munnani sources, works as Ansari’s manager.

The Palayamkottai Shiva temple has, in this instance, auctioned on lease eight cents of its land to Muthiah, the highest bidder, for Rs 1.75 lakh per month.

The land, on one of the main roads in the town, is some two km away from the temple.

Kamalanathan has questioned Muthiah's taking of the lease when he has no known sources of such income to pay a huge amount as lease rental.

When a media person pointed out to the HR&CE Department contention that no one objected when the land was auctioned on lease, the Hindu Munnani leader said that no one then knew that “this was a benami transaction”.

Kamalanathan spoke to media yesterday (15 June) soon after protesting at the land site where construction of the restaurant had begun.

He said the organisation decided to stage a protest after construction activities began at the site and added that the HRCE Department had wantonly gifted the temple land through a benami transaction.

Demanding cancellation of the lease, the Hindu Munnani leader said the organisation would launch a bigger agitation if the HR&CE Department failed to cancel the benami transaction.

Separately, the organisation has petitioned the district collector, who has promised to look into the issue.

The Palayamkottai Shiva temple controversy is among a slew of complaints of misuse of temple lands that are coming out in Tamil Nadu, of late.

The temple dates back to the Pandya kingdom, during 14th-16th century CE, and was known as Shenbakaranyam earlier.

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