Dalit settlement looks deserted; 12 arrested; peace meet held

Uneasy calm prevailed in Melmangalam village on Sunday night, after some unidentified persons set fire to six houses and threw stones at six other dwellings, in a clash that broke out following an elopement of lovers belonging to two different communities.

On information, police rushed to the spot and arrested the suspects.

The injured Muthulakhsmi, Easwari, Kavya (7), Vana Raja and Nagammal were admitted to the Theni Government Medical College Hospital for treatment.

The irony was that the family members of both the boy and girl were not affected in the attack.

The entire stretch, where Dalits lived, wore a deserted look as a majority of them fled in fear. Many residents were unaware of the incident. “When we came back from work, the houses were gutted,” said locals.

Police said B. Suresh and S. Muthulakshmi of Melmangalam had been in love for a long time. The parents of both objected to the affair and tension surfaced when the Dalit youth eloped with the upper caste girl five days ago.

The upper caste people summoned Dalits and asked them to bring the girl back immediately. The boy’s family members said they did not know their whereabouts.

Dhanasekar, Arjunan, Jayakumar, Azhagu, Pandi, Lakshmanan, Periya Perumal, Sivakumar, Murugan, Sonai, Karthi and Dalit Murugapandi were arrested in connection with the clash.

Cases were filed under Sections 147, 148, 294 (b), 307, 323,234, 336 and 341 of the IPC, the Women Atrocities Act and the Prevention of Civil Rights Act.

Compensation distributed

Meanwhile, District Revenue Officer Soma Pandian on Monday disbursed compensation of Rs. 5,000, saris and dhotis, rice and kerosene to Thangam, Murugan and another Murugan and Rs. 2,500 to Muthu, Sendrayan and Manigandan as their houses were partly damaged.

Revenue officials convened a peace meeting.

Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO, appealed to the State government to pay more compensation to Dalits and detain the accused under the Goondas Act.

All accused should be arrested, its executive director A. Kadir said in a release.

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