Police chase away thousands marching towards Kumili

Incidents of stone throwing and burning of properties belonging to Keralites were reported from different parts of Theni district as the protest against the move to bring down the water level in the Mullaperiyar dam and decommission it turned violent on Tuesday.

Thousands of people, who marched towards Kumili, were chased away by the police before Lower Camp provoking the agitators to gherao police vehicles at Goodalur.

A group of youth was prevented from entering Kerala through Sakkuluthu Mettu by the police in the morning. The agitators were helping Tamil families fleeing Kerala by ferrying them to their villages in jeeps.

A section of the youth, agitated by the police action, barged into a farm owned by a Keralite at D. Meenakshipuram near Devaram. After damaging pipelines, asbestos roof, coconut seedlings and goods kept in rooms, they set fire to a thatched shed in the presence of a handful of police personnel.

Equipment inside the shed, including a power tiller, were destroyed. Since the pipelines were damaged, the police could not immediately put out the fire. The youth also damaged the drip irrigation system. At Theni, a mob targeted a hotel owned by a Keralite around noon.

“We had asked all guests, except for a cinema group, to vacate four days ago. The hotel gates remained locked but the agitators managed to enter and smashed all the window panes and lights,” a person present at the hotel said. The bandobust provided by a few police personnel did not deter the mob from indulging in violence. The name boards of two establishments of a Kerala-based finance company were also damaged in the town.

After the attack on Theni MP J.M. Haroon's office here on Monday, police security has been provided for his bungalow at Kombai. Road blockades in over 50 places between Chinnamanur and Goodalur and other parts of the district forced officials to withdraw public transport vehicles that were plying up to Theni in the morning. Youths carrying axes brought down a huge branch of a banyan tree at Anumanthapatti.

Almost all shops and commercial establishments, except tea stalls and small eateries, remained closed in the district where people organised hunger strike, human chain and demonstration at several places.

Members of masons' association formed a human chain at Bodinaickanur.

At least a dozen posters criticising the Kerala government and the Centre's inaction and demanding the raising of the water level to 142 feet as per the Supreme Court direction were pasted on buses. The posters also demanded the immediate resignation of all MPs from Tamil nadu in protest against the Centre's silence on the issue.

More than 5,000 protesters from various parts of the district marched towards Kumily. A large number of women blocked the road at Goodalur and gheraoed Tirupur Superintendent of Police V. Balakrishnan in protest against “lathi charge.” Mr. Balakrishnan said that he had to use force after the protest turned violent.

The protesters demanded that all the roads to Kerala be blocked and Additional Director General of Police George removed for “ordering” lathi charge in the district.