Farmers lock horns with HR&CE Dept. over alleged encroachment of temple lands in Sulur

Have pattas for the identified 23 acres, they say at meeting with officials

With the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) Department identifying around 23 acres of allegedly encroached temple lands in Sulur, the farmers who were identified as encroachers denied any encroachment during a meeting with the officials here on Tuesday.

Sources in the HR&CE Department said that nine farmers in Sulur taluk were identified to have encroached on around 23 acres that belonged to Mandhiragiri Velayudha Swamy Temple in Thencherimalai.

The officials had issued notices to the alleged encroachers earlier this year, asking them to hand over the land to the HR&CE Department. They, however, refused to do so by claiming that they had pattas and were not encroaching on the land.

HR&CE Joint Commissioner for Coimbatore Zone R. Senthilvelavan called for a meeting on Tuesday with the nine farmers, the sources said. Around 50 persons, including members of the Tamilaga Vivasayigal Pathukappu Sangam, a farmers association, visited the office to participate in the meeting.

The association’s founder M. Easan told mediapersons that the temple lands were ‘inam’ lands that were gifted by various rulers centuries ago and the ownership of the lands were transferred to the farmers as per the Tamil Nadu Minor Inams (Abolition and Conversion into Ryotwari) Act, 1963. Hence, he claimed that the farmers were not encroachers and that they had pattas for the land.

However, the HR&CE Department sources said that the patta for the 23 acres was registered in the temple’s name and contended that the farmers did not have pattas as claimed by Mr. Easan.

A second meeting will be held here on July 20, during which the farmers will be required to furnish evidence for their claimed ownership of the land, the sources said.

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