Ramanathapuram: Five persons were on Sunday
killed in police firing at Paramakudi, 40 km from here, when a
mob of Dalits turned violent, setting ablaze vehicles and
blocking traffic following the detention of their leader, John
Pandian at Vallanadu in Tuticorin district.
Violence broke out after news spread that Pandian had been
detained at Tuticorin en route to Paramakudi to pay homage on
the death anniversary of Dalit leader Imanuel Sekar.
Police used tear gas and lathi-charge before firing at the
crowd at Paramakudi.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC have been
promulgated in Ramanathapuram district and police officially
confirmed the death of five persons in the violence.
Four of the deceased have been identified as Jayapal,
Panneerselvam, Manickam and Ganesan, while the fifth is yet to
be identified, they said. About 50 others were also injured in
the violence, they added.
Police said several people, including DIG Sandeep Mittal,
Superintendent of Police Senthil Velan and DSP Ganesan were
injured and rushed to the Government Hospital.
More than 15 vehicles, including a crowd control vehicle
were set ablaze.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa defended
the police firing and blamed some people for disrupting law
and order "for their own political gains."
"The protesters indulged in largescale violence and torched
police vehicles. Police opened fire in self defence and to
protect public property as they threw petrol bombs," she said
in a statement, describing the violent protest as "highly
Jayalalithaa also announced Rs one lakh compensation from
the Chief Minister`s Relief Fund to the next of kin of those
Local police personnel said they had to open fire at the
mob as lathi-charge and lobbing of tear gas shells had proved
ineffective. Even opening fire in the air did not have any
effect on the protestors, they said.
All shops and business establishments in most parts of
Ramanathapuram district were closed and bus services stopped.
Local Dalit leaders blamed police for not making proper
arrangements to manage the huge crowd expected for paying
homage to the Dalit leader. They alleged that only 400
policemen were deployed in the area.
Though police said the situation in the district was
normal, there was sporadic violence at different parts of
Ramanathapuram including at Muthukulathur, Sikkal and 14 other
Police reinforcement has been sent to the district to
monitor the situation closely and armed policemen have been
posted at sensitive areas.
Meanwhile, three trains - Madurai-Rameswaram Passenger,
Karakkudi-Manamadurai DEMU Special and Rameswaram-Madurai
Passenger - were cancelled following the incident.