TN police strangulate Free Press: Files FIR against Commune for reporting on Chidambaram Temple row

The Tamil Nadu Chidambaram Town police has summoned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tamil Nadu state secretary SG Suryah in connection to an FIR registered over alleged defamatory social media posts regarding the events that took place during Aani Thirumanjanam festival at the ancient Nataraja Temple. Kaushik Subramanian of the digital news portal The Commune, has also been summoned to participate in the investigation on 4th July.

Police registered the FIR based on a revenue official’s complaint that Suryah published allegedly defamatory posts on the social media platform accusing local authorities of harassment during the festival. The Commune published a report on 28th June accusing an HR&CE official and police of harassing Dikshithars. The report claimed that the Dikshithars were pushed, and religious symbols were desecrated.

The allegations came in view of HR&CE’s action against the temple administration’s move to ban devotee access to Kanagasabai mandapam at Chidambaram temple in Cuddalore district during the four-day Aani Thirumanjanam festival from 24th June to 28th June. The temple administration said it was done to ensure effective crowd management, as a lot of people visit the temple during the festival. Though the restriction was only for four days, HR&CE officials with the police reached the temple and removed the notice board.

An altercation occurred between Dikshithars and officials, after which the HR&CE official filed a police complaint accusing Dikshithars of assault and obstruction. A police official said in a statement, “Following this, Sivarama Dikshithar, secretary of the Podhu Dikshithar committee, and ten others, including some priests, have been booked under various IPC sections, and under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act.”

Notably, the Tamil Nadu government is formulating a plan to take over the temple administration from Dikshithars. The state government has claimed that the temple administration has denied devotees the right to worship. Furthermore, the state government has accused the temple administration of irregularities and lack of transparency in the administration.

VAO Sheikh Sirajuddin files FIR

According to the Opindia, the complaint against The Commune has been filed by a local revenue department staff named Sheikh Sirajuddin. Sirajuddin is the VAO of Chidambaram who has said in his complaint that he overheard people at 2 different bus stands discussing the news of Dikshitars being misbehaved with by HR&CE officials and hence he thinks that The Commune’s reports can cause law and order problems in Chidambaram area.

Sirajuddin has also added that the reports by The Commune, which supported the Dikshitars and opposed the state government, were intended for stirring law and order issues and to create rumors against the government. The complaint by Sirajuddin was filed on June 29.

The recent issue regarding the Chidambaram Temple

On 27th June, Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department official Velvizhi, accompanied by two female police personnel, entered the Kanagasabai amidst resistance from Dikshithars and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) supporters. The development came days after a controversy erupted claiming Podhu Dikshitars of Chidambaram Natarajar temple declined permission to devotees to offer prayers from Kanagasabai during the Aani Thirumanjanam festival.

Podhu Dikshithars are the hereditary priests and custodians of Sri Sabanayagar Temple, popularly known as Lord Nataraja Temple. As per a statement issued by Dikshitars, they were pushed down, and their clothes were torn.

Notably, Deekshitars have been managing the temple for centuries. The temple has historically changed darshan timings and programs during festivals to ensure smooth management. The devotees and temple administration have been left confused and angered. Notably, Supreme Court has already ruled that the government cannot interfere in temple management. Despite the orders from the apex court, DMK continued to create controversy using HR&CE around the temple.

News sourced from Opindia republished with edits in lieu of content sharing agreement with