The November 7 attack on three Dalit colonies in the district was a well-organised crime, Chairman of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes, P.L. Punia, said here on Monday.

A mob of over 1,800 persons looted and torched the dwellings of Dalits in three colonies of Naikkankottai village in the district after a caste Hindu committed suicide, distraught over his daughter’s marriage to a Dalit youth from one of the colonies.

It was not anguish over a single incident (the suicide). It was a well-organised and planned attack, he told reporters.

After inspecting the houses that were targeted and interacting with the people and officials, Mr. Punia said that the mob used petrol bombs and torched the houses after taking away valuables. The rough estimate of the loss was Rs. 6.95-crore.

Rehabilitation

On rehabilitation, Mr. Punia referred to the district administration’s plan to reconstruct 40 fully damaged houses at a cost of Rs. 1.5 lakh each and to undertake repairs to the partially damaged ones at a total cost of Rs. 40.90 lakh. The estimates had been sent to the government for approval. The works would begin soon after Deepavali.

Till these works were over, the affected people would be accommodated in temporary sheds that the administration was putting up at Rs. 12 lakh.

Mr. Punia said that the district administration had been directed to provide transport facility to the Dalit colonies, as some of the girls pursuing Plus-Two expressed fears that they could be targeted when they walked to school, covering a long distance through fields.

Members of the Commission Lata Priyakumar, M. Shivanna, Directors D. Venkatesan (Tamil Nadu), P. Girija (Karnataka), Dharmapuri Collector R. Lilly and Deputy Inspector General of Police, Salem Range, Sanjay Kumar, were present at the press conference.

Former IAS officer and leader of the Samuga Samathuva Padai R. Sivakami attended the press conference as a journalist. She said atrocities on Dalits prevailed across the district and the government and the district administration had failed to control these. The Commission should take action against the State Government and recommend its dismissal. She also said a lot of Panchami lands were yet to be retrieved from land grabbers. Each household in the three Dalit colonies should be given a compensation of Rs. 25 lakh.