SP denies accusations of 'witch hunting' of Muslims and 'kangaroo court'. The president of the Jamaat of V.Kalathur demanded that the Muslims be given protection from the 'deliberate' actions of the police.

The State Minorities Commission was witness to a poignant scene involving the Muslims and the Hindus of V.Kalathur, a village in Perambalur district, on Tuesday. When the commission headed by Bishop M. Prakash had a sitting at the Perambalur collectorate, the president of the Jamaat of V.Kalathur demanded that the Muslims be given protection from the “deliberate” actions of the police. He pointed out that four streets in the village had a predominantly Muslim population and hence all that they wanted was that the Hindu processions avoid these streets.

“Almost once in 15 days some festival or other is organised by the Hindus and procession is taken through our streets. We are afraid that something untoward against us could take place then.” When there was a complaint, 103 Muslims, including those studying and those about to leave abroad for jobs, were arrested, while it was only three persons on the Hindus’ side who were taken into custody.

Ramaswamy, speaking on behalf of the Hindus at V.Kalathur, lamented that “Hindus have become minorities at V.Kalathur and our fundamental rights are trampled upon when we are not allowed to take our processions through the routes through which we have been traditionally taking our processions. But for the protection offered by the district administration, we will find it difficult to live in the village and I am in half a mind to get myself converted.”

Superintendent of Police T.K.Rajasekaran said there had been no problem at all between the two communities living in for ages. It all started only when a section of the Muslim community objected to the Hindus taking out processions through “their streets”. They even moved the High Court. “All that the police did was to ensure smooth movement of the procession without any untoward incidents and we have conducted a number of peace meetings as well.” The police started working out the number of processions taken out per annum and how the religious processions could be avoided through these streets. “But even as the discussions were going on, a marriage procession of Hindus was stopped by the Muslims. Then the police were left with no other option but to arrest 70 Muslims as it apprehended serious unrest.”

When hardly half a dozen policemen are required for bandobust, why police should seek the presence of an IG, a DIG and two SPs, but for the situation turning grave, he asked. The SP also said that though invitations were sent to Muslims nine times for talks, none responded.

He dismissed the allegation that the police were indulging in “witch hunting” of Muslims and running a “kangaroo court” (katta panchayat).

The Muslims said that they were prepared to live in harmony with other communities, but there was an attempt to drive a wedge.