Violence was unleashed by a group of men at Vanagiri here against the villagers, who were opposed to the proposed 2 X 500 MW thermal power plant here on Thursday night.

Locals alleged that the police barged into their houses past midnight on Thursday, hurled abuses at women and picked up several youngsters, including some students, following the violence.

Conflict had erupted on Thursday afternoon, when R. Anbazhagar, Leader of the Tamil Nadu Fisherfolk Peravai attended the fisherfolk’s flag hoisting ceremony at Vanagiri. A group, alleged to be supporters of the project, arrived in the village with sickles, spades and other weapons to create chaos.

A clash was averted with the intervention of the village elders. According to Gunasekaran, Panchayathar of Vanagiri, the villagers had sought police presence after the incident, but it was ignored stating that there was no adequate police force. Later, the pro-project group went on a rampage breaking a couple of shops.

Nineteen boys were picked up and taken to the Poompuhar Police Station on Thursday night and were let off on Friday. There was no reason for the police to secure young boys through the night, when they did nothing to prevent the violence unleashed by the pro-project group in the first place, villagers charged.

The village has been tense for a week now. According to Desappan of Vanagiri, after a few fisticuffs that had occurred through this week, attempts were made to file a complaint with the police. But they were lackadaisical till it went overboard on Thursday night, villagers alleged.

Police said 10 persons from the pro-project group and 12 from among the villagers have been arrested. The village wore a deserted look on Friday with stray houses occupied. A couple of shops stood destroyed with glass shards, soft drink bottles and cartons strewn around. Over 60 police personnel were stationed there.

Women sat and watched over the station with the school IDs of their wards to prove their innocence. The power plant is proposed to be implemented by M/s P.E.L Power Limited.