HC directs TN Gov to maintain law, order at Eraiyer during Easter

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Chennai, Mar 20 (UNI) The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu Government to give proper protection and maintain law and order when the Punitha Madha Jabamalai Church at Eraiyer in Villupuram District opens for Good Friday and Easter Mass Prayers from tomorrow.

Justice K Mohan Ram gave the directive to the Villpuram District Collector and Superintendent of Police to ensure that the celebration of ''Raising of Jesus Christ'', starting from Good Friday tomorrow to Easter on March 23, was conducted in a peaceful manner.

The Judge gave the directive, while disposing of a writ petition filed by Anthony Samy, Senate member of the Punitha Jabamala Church in Eraiyur, who sought a direction to the district authorities to prevent the Priest from opening the Church for mass prayer as it would lead to fresh clash and loss of lives.

The village had witnessed violence on March 9, when Dalit Christians, while staging a protest, demanding a separate parish following discrimination at the hands of Vanniya Christians, were attacked by the latter and their houses ransacked.

When police arrived at the scene and tried to disperse the mob, one group targetted the police, forcing them to open fire, in which two people were killed. Since then, tension prevailed in the village and there was every possibility of a clash between the two communities if the Church was opened for prayers during Easter.

Despite representaions to the district authorities, none of the senior civil and police officials visited the village after the police firing and failed to provide adequate protection to the affected Dalit Christians, the petitioner submitted.

The petitioner said after the incident on March 9, the Church was closed the next day for fear of fresh violence. But Rev Elias, Eraiyer Parish Priest was now making arrangements to open the Church for the Mass Prayers from March 21 to 23, he said.

If the Church was opened for prayers, there would be a clash between the Dalit, Hindu and Vanniya Christians, leading to loss of lives, the petitioner apprehended.

He further submitted that Vanniya Christians were gathering rowdy elements to attack the Dalit Christians during the Easter celebrations.

UNI XR/WS SBC HT2105

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