A battle won:
So there finally, an India I have believed in. An India so intractable most times, peopled with much dishonesty and ill-intentions, and yet watched by an unblinking eye. Its gaze when revealed can be so comforting and full of hope. Oh for a time when that gaze will prevail before so much machinations occur.
The whole village gathered to give Chettiar a reception on the land he had been restrained from entering. We garlanded the man and I addressed the villagers to stand up for what was their right. MGM staffers stood afar, watching and working their mobiles.
MGM developed another line now. They said, that though the injunction was vacated, the suit had not concluded. And till that date, villagers may not enter the land. There you have it: commercial uses of the legal process. File a suit—any flimsy suit—do not prosecute it but just keep it adjourned and carry on business.
I did the rounds of DIG and SP again. I explained that entering the land for offering worship and recreation by resident communities is one thing, and quite another for a resort without any rights to it, to hold parties on it and earn revenue therefrom. I showed HR&CE's sworn statement that MGM was an encroacher.
It was a daily wrangle, though. Unwashed villagers were just not acceptable as they compromised the ritzy illusion to be served for MGM's guests. The local police stood on neutral ground, but under constant pressure from mysterious sources. Something had to give.
Choreography by MGM:
December 15, 2004 was the last day of the Tamil month Kaarthigai. Villagers gathered on the temple grounds to offer worship. They planted a trishul and prepared for a puja. I got a call at 11 am from Neelangarai Police Inspector on my mobile. He was in some panic. He pleaded with me that there was a crisis. He was on leave. MGM was calling repeatedly that villagers had gathered menacingly. Would I go and keep the peace? I began to walk to the temple lands half a kilometer away. Soon there was another call; this time from the Sub-Inspector, also in panic. MGM had been calling him too.
When I reached the venue villagers were calm and peaceful. I spoke to them and they assured me that they would disperse after puja. I walked over to MGM staffers nearby and conveyed the message to them. I called the Inspector too and assured him there was no threat to peace. All was quiet for an hour. MGM staff were working their mobiles.
Soon a posse of lathi-wielding police arrived on the scene. I spoke with them too and explained the position. After some argument they too were becalmed and stood aside. The priest began his chants in front of the trident. All was calm except in MGM ranks. Signs of worship were at such odds on land usurped for partying. There was much animation and phoning by them.