KARUR: After five rounds of discussions, the deadlock over a temple festival here finally ended on Monday, with the caste Hindus and Dalits agreeing to celebrate the festival together.
During the two-hour-long peace meeting convened by Karur Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) J Balasubramanian, the caste Hindus agreed not to interfere in the administrative matters of the Sri Mahasakthi Mariamman Temple, while the Dalit side gave up their plans to convert to Islam, protesting caste discrimination.
The dispute between Dalits and Sri Lankan settlers of Lingathuparai of Nagampalli village panchayat here over participating in the temple festival had been on for about a fortnight, during which the matter grabbed the attention of national media following the threat by Dalit families to convert in protest.
“The two sides were asked to celebrate the festival without any bias. We, however, warned them that the festival will be banned if any untoward incident happened,” Balasubramanian told Express.
During the previous rounds of negotiations, the caste Hindu group were allowed to organise the festival on three days from August 5. Sources said the district administration had officially banned cultural events.
Both sides, represented by P Vettrivel for Dalits and P S Mani for Lankan settlers, agreed to the conditions, sources added.
Vettrivel, also the chairman of the trust, told Express they have decided against converting, now that their rights are protected. Regarding the temple administration, he said they will approach the court only if the Lankan settlers interfered in their rights, he added.
Confirming the deal, Srikanth from the caste Hindu Lankan settler told Express that they have agreed to celebrate the festival with the joint participation of all devotees. “Taking over the temple administration is not at all our desire,” he added. A festival was conducted in May by Dalits, but 50 caste Hindu and 21 SC families decided to celebrate it again, which led to a row.