Eraiyur echo: Churches in Cuddalore, Villupuram locked

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Villupuram, Tamil Nadu, Mar 17 (UNI) Expressing solidarity with the Dalit Christians of Eraiyur village in the district, many Catholic churches here and in neighbouring Cuddalore district have been closed down, even as churches across the world were preparing to observe holy week and celebrate Easter.

The trouble that broke out at the Eraiyur village on March 9 last, resulting in the death of two people from the Vanniyar Christian community, seems to be far from over, with Dalits from Catholic churches in the vicinity supporting their cause.

The Magimai Madha church at Mugaiyur village in this district was today locked up by the Dalit Christians, demanding an end to the discrimination against those of their ilk in Eraiyur. The agitators, dressed in black, also staged a demonstration.

Likewise, the Arputha Annai church at Azhagappasamudram in Cuddalore district was shut down by the Dalits on Saturday night, after sending the parish priest Fr Arogyadas out. There was no palm sunday service at the church yesterday and it was yet to be opened.

The Dalits of the area were miffed at the statement of Puducherry and Cuddalore Arch Bishop Antony Anandarayar that the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) was the cause for all problems in the area.

Peeved at the ''untouchability'' being practiced at the churches, Dalit Christians had started a chappel of their own at Eraiyur village and sought the recognition of the Church. Posters in the village claiming that the church frequented by the Vanniyar Christians would be shut down provoked the group, which ransacked the church, houses and shops of the Dalits. In the ensuing violence and police firing, two Vanniyar Christians were shot dead on March 9.

An uneasy calm prevailed at the Eraiyur village now and palm sunday services were held yesterday.

Meanwhile, tension prevailed in the area following rumours that all churches under the Cuddalore and Puducherry diocese were to be closed. Consequently, police rushed forces to the area and was monitoring the situation near the churches.

UNI XR-GD JT KN1927

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