The Madras High Court bench here has asked the State and district monitoring committees to ensure that there is no repeat of caste conflicts at Uthapuram in Peraiyur taluk. The village witnessed major clashes between upper caste Hindus and Dalits in 1948, 1964 and1989.
The two castes clashed again in 2008, when Dalits demolished part of the dividing wall constructed by upper caste Hindus separating the two castes.
The issue was resolved after upper caste Hindus and Dalits entered into an agreement on October 20, 2011, following the intervention of the Madurai district police and the district administration.
Disposing of a public interest writ petition filed in 2008 by S.K. Ponnuthai, the Madurai district secretary of the All India Democratic Women’s Association, a division bench comprising Justices Chitra Venkataraman and S. Vimala directed the committees to organise meetings and monitor the situation in the village.
Ms. Ponnuthai, in her petition, sought directions to the State to take precautionary measures by implementing Rule 3 of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules. The victims of the 2008 caste conflicts should be provided compensation and rehabilitation, she pleaded.
Soon after the agreement was signed, the State government constituted a high-power State-level committee supplemented by district and divisional-level committees to assist the government in implementing the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Ms. Ponnuthai’s counsel U. Nirmala Rani also prayed that a nodal officer be appointed to review the situation at Uthapuram and initiate action against the police officers, who foisted false cases against the Dalits of the village.
The division bench, in its order, observed that compensation had already been ordered to the victims of the 2008 caste conflicts pursuant to the directions of a single judge.
The single judge had entrusted the task of implementing the agreement and maintaining peace between the two castes to the Superintendent of Police, Madurai district, the bench noted.
“The proper course herein is to leave the matter to the good sense of the committees. The State and the district monitoring committees may organise meetings required to monitor and take preventive measures not to repeat the happenings of 2008,” the judges said.
The division bench further relegated the task of taking action against the officials who foisted false cases against the Dalits to the district administration.