Caste row: Tension builds in TN

CHENNAI: The security apparatus in Tamil Nadu has been put on alert as tension between the Dalit community and upper caste political parties has escalated in many parts of the state, days after clashes in the western district of Dharmapuri.

Following the killing of their leader, Dalit Panthers of India (DPI) treasurer Mudakathan Pandi, in Madurai on Monday the protestors called for a bandh on Friday.

This is the first strike called in the state since the AIADMK assumed power in May.

Several people were taken into custody following Pandi's murder. Police say the motive was "personal" while the Dalits are blaming the upper castes for the murder.

DPI leader R. Thirumavalavan and his followers were taken into preventive custody in Chennai Thursday while planning the Friday protest and were sent into judicial remand till July 5.

Madurai district chief Jasbir Singh Bajaj said there was "no cause for agitation as the widow of the murdered DPI leader has already been offered a job and paid a compensation of Rs 150,000 out of the Rs 200,000 sanctioned immediately by the Chief Minister."

Security has been tight in Madurai district following Pandi's murder and several protests by local Dalit groups. Security was also tightened in Cuddalore district.

On Tuesday, as news of Pandi's death spread, three state transport buses were stoned and DPI cadre went on the rampage, venting their anger primarily on state transport vehicles and traffic on the highways. The transport authorities have formed special squads to ensure free traffic flow in the violence-torn districts.

Police reinforcements have been rushed to about 20 villages in Cuddalore district that are prone to traditional strife between the Dalits and the upper caste Vanniya community.

The police are also keeping a watch on at least 50 Dalit villages in Madurai district.

The arrest of Thirumavalavan and other Dalit leaders has added to the

tension in many Dalit-dominated areas in Ariyalur and Tiruchi districts in central Tamil Nadu. DPI district leaders throughout the state were taken into preventive custody Thursday. Thirumavalavan told the media after being produced in court on Thursday night (for which the metropolitan magistrate was made to reopen the court after it had closed for the day) that the arrests were "politically motivated".

Throughout last week, Krishnagiri in Dharmapuri district witnessed clashes between the Vanniya caste-dominated Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), an ally of the ruling AIADMK, the Dalit parties supporting the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and the law enforcers. Two dozen people were injured when police opened fire. (IANS)

DPI's bandh call evokes poor response

MADURAI: Barring sporadic incidents, the bandh call given the Dalit Panthers of India (DPI), demanding a CBI probe into the murder of DPI state treasurer Mudakathan Pandi, evoked a poor response in the city and in this district on Friday.

Police said four people were taken into custody in Madurai rural district for stoning buses near Alagarkoil on Thursday night.

In Madurai city, eight people were arrested in two incidents of stoning buses, and four others were apprehended for the same offence. The window panes of the buses were damaged.

However, life in the city and in the rural areas remained unaffected. Commercial and other establishments remained open and educational institutions also functioned normally. Buses plied as usual, and the movement of vehicular traffic was unaffected on account of the bandh, police said. (PTI)

Protestors target Buses

By Our Tamil Nadu Bureau

CHENNAI, JUNE 22. Violence broke out in the form of stone- throwing on buses in various parts of the State following the arrest of the DPI leader, Mr. R. Thirumavalavan, MLA, here and during a bandh in Madurai on Friday.

Nearly 75 buses were damaged in the incidents which were reported from Cuddalore, Villupuram, Tirunelveli, Tiruchi, Madurai, Theni, Perambalur, Ariyalur and Kancheepuram districts. Ten persons were injured in the stone-throwing, according to information reaching the police here.

About 1,500 persons were taken into preventive custody, besides nearly 600 picked up for violating the regulatory order. Nearly 200 persons were arrested for incidents of stone-throwing, the police said.

The bandh evoked a lukewarm response, even as four buses were stoned by miscreants. Thirteen STC buses were damaged since last night in and around Madurai. Armed policemen escorted buses to remote areas.

The DPI had given the call for the bandh in Madurai today to protest the murder of the party treasurer, Mr. Mudakathan Pandi, recently. Mr.Thirumavalavan and five party workers were arrested as a preventive measure on the eve of the bandh.

Cuddalore and Villupuram districts bore the brunt with normal life affected, as buses, particularly on the inter- district routes, were off the road in many major towns.

About 30 buses including mini-buses were damaged in stone- throwing at Mandarakuppam, Cuddalore, Tindivanam, Villupuram, Sangeethamangalam near Gingee, Pappanchavady near Vanur and Tiruchitrambalam near Auroville.

Several passengers and devotees were stranded near many historical temples and at bus stands in Cuddalore, Pondicherry and Melmalaiyanoor on Thursday night.

At least half-a-dozen STC buses were damaged in stone-pelting in Tiruchi, Perambalur and Ariyalur districts since Thursday night.

An STC bus was damaged when stones were thrown at it at Moolakaraipatti near Palayamkottai this morning.

About 110 persons were taken into preventive custody in Thanjavur district in the wake of the arrest of Mr. Thirumavalavan. Nearly 20 DPI volunteers were arrested when they attempted to stage demonstration in front of the Ramanathapuram Collectorate today.

The DPI staged a demonstration amidst tight security at the Head Post Office at Pondicherry demanding CBI probe into the murder of Modakathan Pandi and immediate release of Mr.Thirumavalavan. At least 10 buses were stoned in and around Pondicherry last night.

Over 50 DPI volunteers were arrested when they attempted to stage a demonstration violating police regulatory orders in front of the Chennai Collectorate this morning.

The windscreen of nine buses were damaged in stone- throwing incidents in different parts of the city.

According to police, a four-member gang went round the city in an autorickshaw damaging MTC buses. They were arrested and remanded to custody.

Karunanidhi condemns arrests

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, JUNE 22. Condemning the arrest of the Dalit Panthers of India organiser and MLA, Mr. R. Tirumavalavan, and other DPI activists, the DMK president, Mr. M. Karunanidhi, has demanded their immediate release.

The police could have permitted the `token protest' the DPI had planned for today, following the murder of the party treasurer, Mudakathan Pandi, in Madurai a few days ago, as Mr. Tirumavalavan had announced that it would be ``peaceful and democratic'', Mr. Karunanidhi said in a statement here.

But refusal of permission and suddenly arresting Mr. Tirumavalavan last evening were deplorable.

Even if the police denied permission for the protest, the normal practice was to arrest the protesters and let them off in the evening the same day.

``It is the duty of the police to uphold law and order and not to resort to needless arrests which could lead to a law and order problem,'' Mr. Karunanidhi said.

1,200 Dalit Panthers held during TN bandh

Chennai, July 22: Over 1200 activists of the Dalit Panthers of India have been taken into preventive custody and about 30 public transport buses were damaged in stone-throwing on Friday during a bandh. The bandh was called by the DPI to protest against the murder of party treasurer Mudakathan Pandi hit normal life in some parts of Tamil Nadu, particularly the temple town of Madurai and its neighbourhood, police said.

While 20 buses were damaged in and around Madurai since Friday morning, about ten buses were hit in the northern districts of Cuddalore and Villupuram where the DPI has a strong presence.

The party activists appeared to be particularly angry over the arrest of their leader R Thirumavalavan on Thursday, following his call for the State-wide bandh to protest against the murder of his party treasurer in Madurai on Monday.

The DPI chief has been remanded to judicial custody on charge of plotting to disrupt peace in the State under the pretext of observing bandh for his associateís murder, police said.

Stray incidents of violence occurred in some parts of Tamil Nadu following Pandiís killing. Five DPI activists were arrested in connection with the stabbing of a bus conductor at Ayyampalayam near Perambalur on Wednesday. Miscreants were warned against attempting to damage public property.

Over 1000 DPI men taken into custody

CHENNAI: The cadres of the Dalit Panthers of India were up in arms in many parts of the state to protest against the detention of their leader R Thirumavalavan, but the violence was relatively on a low-key, according to reports reaching here.

In all 40 buses were damaged in stoning, otherwise there was no major violent incident reported from anywhere. Over 1,000 DPI men have so far been taken into custody.

The demonstrations by the DPI outfits were confined to Madurai, Cuddalore and Perambalur regions, police sources say. Tirumavalavan was taken into custody in the city on Thursday and remanded to judicial custody for a fortnight.

The police move had come in the wake of a bandh call given by the DPI in Madurai district to protest against the murder of one of their functionaries near Madurai on Monday.

Immediately after the murder, a state transport bus was torched, but the police promptly swung into action and the violence was contained effectively.

The DPI cadres maintain that the administration was partisan and that while "they went all out to crack down on our cadres immediately after the bus burning, they have not shown equal enthusiasm in nabbing those responsible for the gruesome murder of one of our senior leaders. Those who have surrendered have nothing to do with the crime, and the police are doing only a cover-up job."

It is said that that the DPI leadership is keen on obliterating the general image that their cadres plunge into violence at the slightest provocation and hence the relative restraint seen today.

Many allies of the DPI, including the DMK, have condemned the arrest of Thirumavalavan and his cadres.

DPI leader's arrest in city, police HQ alerts dists

CHENNAI: the police headquarters has sounded a state-wide alert to prevent any outbreak of violence in the wake of the arrest of Dalit Panthers of India leader and MLA R Tirumavalavan on Thursday.

It has also advised the district police to intensify security and patrolling arrangement. The alert message was sounded the moment the DPI leader and five of his supporters were taken into preventive custody inChennai on Thursday evening.

A senior police official told the 'City Express' on Thursday night that all districts had been asked to tighten security and intensify patrolling to prevent any untoward incident. Patrolling would be also tightened on National Highways.

Security has been stepped up in Madurai city and the district as a whole. Police sources said in Madurai city alone over 50 persons had been taken under preventive custody on Thursday.

The DPI had called for a bandh on Friday to condemn the brutal murder of its State Treasurer 'Mudakathan' Pandian by an armed gang on Monday. Tension prevailed in the district following the murder after a State Transport Corporation bus was set afire allegedly by DPI cadres on Tuesday.

The Madurai City Police personnel had been providing escort in long distance buses leaving the city. The escort has been given in buses proceeding to Tiruchi, Tirunelveli, Ramanathapuram and Sivaganga.

Police sources said the Madurai City Police have been completely mobilised to avert any violent incident in the wake of Tirumavalavan's arrest. Police have set up pickets in over 50 villages in Madurai district which have been identified as sensitive.

The sources said in Chennai and suburban areas more than 100 persons have been taken under preventive custody by the police.

Plying of buses affected after arrest of Thirumavallavan

PONDICHERRY: Plying of buses from Pondicherrry to several areas has been affected in aniticipation of law and order problem in several areas following arrest of DPI leader, R.Thirumavallavan on Thursday .

Most buses plying to the rural and distant areas from Pondicherry kept off the road in the morning and though later in the day buses started operating to a few places outside the Pondy urban limits, there has been only a few passengers.

It is reported that early in the morning a group of persons threatned the bus crew against operting the bus service and also forced closure of shops inside the New Bustand complex.

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Published on: June 26, 2001
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