Dalits and caste Hindus residing at Naranamangalam near Alathur in Perambalur district are locked in a dispute over the according of traditional honours during a temple festival.
A series of peace talks held to break the impasse failed to yield any relief. Meanwhile, the Dalit people approached the court and appealed the district administration to intervene in the issue and allow them to participate in the festival.
Meanwhile on May 24 this year, a peace meeting was convened by the RDO, Perambalur DSP and Alathur Tahsildar, in which several resolutions, including permission for both groups to participate in the festival, were passed.
However, the caste Hindus continued to oppose the provision of temple honour to Dalits. Subsequently, the meeting was put-off. Another round of talks held on May 27 also failed.
The officials then asked both the groups not to pull temple car fearing that it would create a law and order problem. This created further trouble and the Dalits claimed that the officials were acting in favour of the caste Hindus.
Another round of talks was organized on May 28, in which caste Hindus, who assembled in large numbers, attempted to besiege the officials. Hence, a heavy posse of police was deputed on the spot. On learning that there would be trouble, the Dalits stayed away from the meeting.
Meanwhile, Evidence, a human rights organisation working for the Dalits and tribal people, conducted a field study and found that the officials were acting in favour of the backward community people. “A senior official openly said that Dalits touching puja articles would invite God’s wrath. Hence, officials fear to initiate action on the issue,” said Kathir, NGO head, urging the government to step in and resolve the issue.