In a shocking revelation, an alleged attempt to illegally transfer nearly 1.8 acres of land belonging to Meenakshi Amman Temple in a prime location here to a few people with the collusion of some revenue officials has come to light.

Sources at the temple said that the land, located near a private school on Hakim Ajmal Khan Road in Bibikulam area was donated in the 1930s by the Pudukottai Thondaiman family as kattalai, which meant that the revenue from the property can be used for the temple but it cannot be transferred or sold to anyone.

According to official records, the land was reportedly under the custody of a trustee named K. Thulasiram. The revenue officials, who allegedly colluded with the beneficiaries to transfer the land, had apparently justified the transfer by citing a bookkeeping error that happened several years before.

A retired senior revenue official, however, said that even if there was an error and the land title had to be transferred to rectify the error, it could be done only with the approval of Revenue Divisional Officer and District Revenue Officer and not at the level of a Tahsildar.

However, the patta transfer order issued in June 2016, seen by The Hindu, showed that it was issued only with the signature of Madurai North Tahsildar M.K. Anbazhagan. The order also clearly mentions the present holder of the patta as Meenakshi Amman Temple.

Temple authorities said that after a complaint to the revenue officials, action was being taken to cancel the patta transfer, which was made illegally, and transfer the land back to the temple.

Evading the question on whether the land was transferred as per procedures, Mr. Anbazhagan, when contacted, acknowledged that steps were being taken to alter the land records back in the name of Meenakshi Amman Temple.

The Hindu has reliably learnt that the Iluppaikudi Village Administrative Officer (VAO) Arasan, who was previously the VAO of Bibikulam where the property is located, has been suspended and an enquiry initiated against Mr. Anbazhagan.

Responding to the incident, BJP State functionary Sasiraman demanded a thorough enquiry and stringent action against the officials involved, including higher-ups, and the beneficiaries to whom the land was transferred.

“Our party has on many occasions highlighted the need for protecting temple properties. This incident appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. A thorough review of the records of all the temple properties is needed,” he said.

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