Seven persons wanted in connection with the murder of a temple priest near Seevalaperi in the district on Sunday have surrendered before police.
Earlier, demanding immediate arrest of the armed gang that murdered the priest, Chidambaram, 45, and grievously injured his friend, Nataraja Perumal, 53, relatives of the victims and members of the Yadava community staged road roko near Tirunelveli Government Medical College Hospital on Monday.
The protestors, led by Tamil Nadu Yadava Maha Sabha youth secretary Pottal Durai, also demanded compensation of ₹20 lakh to the murder victim’s family and government job to a family member. The hour-long agitation was withdrawn after police held talks with the protestors and assured them of the arrest of the culprits at the earliest.
Tracing the circumstances leading to the attack, relatives of the victims said Sannaasi Konar, a shepherd from Kuppaikurichi near Seevalaperi, had darshan of Sudalai Maadan several decades ago when he took his cattle for grazing near Seevalaperi.
He wanted to build a temple for Sudalai Maadan at the spot and sought the help of his community members, who obliged. The Sudalai Maada Saamy Temple came into existence and four families belonging to the community took turns to administer it.
“However, problems cropped up between the temple administrators and another dominant community from Seevalaperi over granting permission for setting up shops during the annual festival at the temple and sacrificing goats and roosters during the celebration,” said a relative on condition of anonymity.
“The enmity has resulted in the murder of the temple priest, Chidambaram alias Durai, who resisted the opposite group’s attempts to snatch the administration of the temple. Moreover, they also objected to Chidambaram setting up his shop in the temple to sell puja material. He was also instrumental in constructing a compound wall around the temple when the opposite group tried to encroach upon temple land,” he added.
He also revealed that a youth from the opposite group tried to marry a girl from Yadava community, which was stopped by Chidambaram. “All these reasons have collectively led to his murder even though he wanted to settle the issue passively by discussing it at a peace meeting held on the day of the murder. It is a well-planned murder as the assailants came to the peace meeting with lethal weapons.”
The condition of Mr. Nataraja Perumal was stated to be ‘critical’.
Since the assailants and the victims hailed from different castes, tension prevailed near Seevalaperi and its surrounding areas. Superintendent of Police N. Manivannan visited the spot on Monday again and strengthened security arrangements. He formed three special teams to nab the suspects.
Meanwhile, seven persons wanted in connection with the murder case surrendered before Seevalaperi police on Monday evening. They were identified as M. Maharajan, 23, M. Petchikutti, 23, C. Esakkimuthu, 19, A. Valathi alias Arumugam, 28, K. Maasaanamuthu, 19, K. Muthumari Durai, 19, and M. Thangapandi, 24, all from Seevalaperi.