An inquiry conducted by the district administration and the police has found no evidence for the charges of social and economic boycott against Dalits by other castes at Thenmudiyanur village in Tiruvannamalai district.
The probe was done by Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) Mandhagini and Superintendent of Police K. Karthikeyan after the allegations emerged.
“We have got sufficient evidence to show that there is no such boycott against Dalits. We found a small section of people in the village who wanted the issue to be alive for some reasons,” Mr. Karthikeyan told The Hindu.
He said three peace committee meetings had been held between the Dalits and other castes since the Muthumariamman temple was opened to the Dalits on January 30. The majority of the Dalits, including the panchayat president, were supporting the initiatives taken by the district administration to return normalcy to the village, he said.
Asked about the action taken against those allegedly involved in damaging the property of the Dalits, including the burning of the shop of a widow and a two-wheeler, the SP said nine cases had been filed against both sides.
“Culprits will be arrested soon. A compensation package is being worked out by the district administration for the affected persons,” he said.
As the temple has remained closed since January 31, Mr. Karthikeyan admitted that a section of the residents, especially women, still did not understand social justice.
Village elders and community leaders are being roped in to convince women to bring normalcy back at the earliest. A 50-member police team had been deployed at the village, he added.
At present, the village has around 2,500 Dalits who are the majority while 10 other castes comprise around 7,000 persons. Traditionally, a 12-day Pongal festival was celebrated in the temple with each caste were given a scheduled day to do rituals.
However, Dalits were barred from entering the temple, which is under the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments Department (HR&CE) for the past three decades.
Since the opening of the temple for Dalits, it has been alleged that other castes in the village have stopped water supply to the small farmlands owned by Dalits; refused to buy milk from Dalit dairy farmers and closed grocery shops in Dalit colonies.
Even the parai (traditional drum) artistes from the Paraiyar community have been banned from performing at village functions such as weddings, funerals, and initiation ceremonies, they alleged.
“Of five grocery shops, run by other castes, in Dalit colonies, three shops were opened last month (February). However, we want immediate arrest of those allegedly involved in property damage and compensation for affected families,” said C. Murugan, a Dalit teacher educator.