“The Uthapuram experience shows that if the will of the people is strong, they can find solutions among themselves even in the absence of State intervention. Such was the fundamental duty imposed under Article 51-A (e) of the Constitution.
Ultimately, Uthapuram message is very clear. It was a case of a wall (caste) which divided but their will (power) united them,” is how the Madras High Court Bench here on Tuesday summed up the truce reached between caste Hindus and Dalits of Uthapuram, a nondescript village near here, last year.
Justice K. Chandru made the observation while disposing of a batch of writ petitions filed by the Dalit victims in 2010, a year before the leaders of the warring caste groups agreed to co-exist peacefully due to negotiations initiated by Madurai Superintendent of Police Asra Garg and his team.
Appreciating the SP, the judge held that there was no necessity to pass orders on the petitioners' plea for a CBI enquiry into the violent incidents that had taken place in the past in view of the peaceful resolution of disputes through an agreement signed by both sides on October 20 last year. However, he directed the State government to pay compensation to the Dalit victims as provided under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and said that the quantum must be determined as per the revision made by the Centre through a notification issued on December 23 last. The money should be paid within 12 weeks after deducting the amount already paid.
The Madurai Collector was also ordered to entertain fresh claims of compensation and ensure implementation of the terms of the agreement within two weeks.
As per the agreement, the Caste Hindus had expressed no objection for the Dalits to worship in the local Muthalamman Temple. Similarly, the Dalits agreed that the management and administration of the temple would rest with the caste Hindus.
The Dalits also agreed that there was no need for demolishing temple compound wall if they were allowed entry. Further, they dropped their demand for constructing a bus shelter on the temple premises and accepted to construct it near a Police Outpost on a land to be provided by the caste Hindus. The agreement also stated that both sides had accepted to withdraw criminal complaints lodged against each other so as to ensure lasting peace in the village.
Therefore, the judge directed the Chief Secretary to take a decision in this regard within eight weeks and issue appropriate orders to the district administration to withdraw those cases.
The Collector and SP were also ordered to continue monitoring the happenings in the village and take appropriate corrective action so that the strife between two sections of people for over two decades would be remembered as a thing of the past.
Directs State to compensate Dalit victims as per SC/ST Act