It is a real homecoming on Wednesday for about 600 members of the 120 families of Vangudi, a sleepy village in Udayarpalaym taluk of Ariyalur district, who were driven out of their homes more than four years ago.
Recounting the incidents which led to such a predicament, P. Senthilkumar, Collector, told The Hindu that this was a sequel to a number of revenge murders following local body elections.
While K.Rajangam and eight others are alleged to have murdered in October 2007 Desingubalan, whom they considered the cause of their electoral defeat, Ravichandran and 17 others are alleged to have ganged up to kill five persons including Rajangam’s father, Kasinathan, two brothers and two other persons in retaliation on May 16, 2008.
Infuriated, Rajangam ransacked the houses of all these people and drove them out of the village with the help of a number of his friends. And these people have fanned out in the villages, most of them in the contiguous district of Cuddalore, and have been living there for the past more than four years.
Since then, Rajangam made it a point not to allow any of the 120 families to return to the village. All that he permitted was that they could visit the village in case of any wedding or death.
But returning home permanently to resume their old life became just a mirage despite their repeated attempts and representations, including the intervention of the Madras High Court in February 2010.
As both the sides belong to the same community, a flare-up was averted. All those driven out of home were daily wage earners.
Both cases registered with the Meensurutti police station were committed to the Fast Track Court,Salem. And in the case with regard to the murder of Desingubalan, Rajangam and his brother Amirthalingam were convicted and sentenced. Now they are on bail.
While the trial was still going on with regard to the case related to five murders, the Madras High Court ordered on February 22,2010, that the houses of all these families should be reconstructed and they should be allowed to live at Vangudi itself. The State Government also sanctioned Rs 15.72 lakh for the purpose.
The district administration could not enforce this order as the peace talks failed.
Mr. Senthilkumar said he was approached by Baskaran, 65, a native of Vangudi, as soon as he assumed charge a couple of months ago. The old man beseeched the collector that all the families, driven out of the village, should be allowed to return and live in peace.
However, when the collector consulted the police, he received only a negative response. They even told him that allowing them to return to their native place might trigger a serious law and order situation.
Without losing hope, Mr. Senthilkumar tried to pacify Rajangam, who was the kingpin in keeping all these people away from the village. But when the latter refused to budge, the collector took it as a challenge.
He instructed the Deputy Superintendent of Police,Jayankondam, in writing that the orders of the High Court should be carried out within a week.
On Wednesday (November 7), an agreement was reached.