To say human being is untouchable is to deny God: Asra Garg

The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday appreciated Madurai Superintendent of Police Asra Garg (31) for efforts taken by him in putting an end to long pending hostility between Caste Hindus and Dalits of Villoor near here through talks.

Justice D. Hariparanthaman recorded his appreciation for the SP and his team of policemen while closing a writ petition filed last year by Villoor Panchayat President S. Subbulakshmi seeking a judicial enquiry into the incidents that led to a police firing in the village on May 1.

The case was closed with the concurrence of the petitioner as well as the respondents after recording the contents of a status report filed by the SP, according to whom some forms of untouchability was in existence in the village, inhabited by Agamudairs and Dalits, from time immemorial.

Mr. Garg said that Dalits were not allowed to ride their vehicles through streets occupied predominantly by Caste Hindus in the village. Double tumbler system was also practised in tea shops and Dalits could not dare to sit on the benches in the local eateries.

Abhorring such practices, he said: “I feel that we should realise that God never made man that he may consider another man as an untouchable. And to say that a single human being, because of his birth, becomes an untouchable, unapproachable or invisible is to deny God.”

On April 30 last year, the local police received a complaint that a 22-year-old Dalit G. Thangapandi was assaulted by Caste Hindus when he attempted to ride a two-wheeler through their street. A case was registered on the basis of the complaint and five of them were arrested on May 1.

“Since the matter seemed to be a serious one involving untouchability, I visited the village in the afternoon on May 1 in order to assess the actual situation. After I left, a few Dalit houses were damaged by a big mob of Agamudiar community people.

“On hearing about this, again I returned to the village. While I was approaching the area with a few policemen, suddenly another crowd armed with weapons such as swords and stones started attacking us. Because of being outnumbered, we retreated back to the Villoor police station.

“Finally, they surrounded the police station and attacked it. As all other legal steps taken by us did not yield any result, in order to protect our lives and the police station, myself and my PSO (personal security officer) fired a few ammunition rounds (in the air) under which the miscreants ran away,” the SP said.

Stating that as many as seven criminal cases had been registered in connection with the firing incident, he said that a team of policemen headed by him recently took efforts to bring about peace between the two warring groups by holding a series of peace committee meetings.

The efforts bore fruit as leaders from both the communities signed an agreement on April 24 agreeing to iron out their differences and live peacefully. It was also resolved that all out efforts would be taken to ensure that no form of untouchability should be practised in the village.

The other terms of the agreement stated that Dalits should not be forced to perform menial jobs. At the same time, they must not prevent any individual who willingly assists Caste Hindus and exaggerate small personal and trivial issues as a communal problem.

“They (Dalits) shall also ensure that if any such anti-social element indulges in magnifying trivial issues and disturbs communal harmony, they shall themselves hand him over to the police… It is therefore humbly submitted that this status report may kindly be accepted and this court may pass any order as it may deem fit,” the SP concluded.

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