Police arrest 421 persons including Coonoor MLA Ramachandran

Tension prevailed in this hill station for some time on Monday morning following the on-going face-off between two groups at the Young Badagas Association (YBA) spilling over to the streets.

With supporters of the two groups led by M. Buddhichandran, AIADMK MLA, and T. Gundan, former MLA owing allegiance to the DMK, claiming for the past about four months that they were in control of the association with about 3800 members, its headquarters on the Lord Wenlock Road here has for sometime now been in focus. The differences among the members had also been keeping the police on their toes and engaging the attention of revenue officials. With both the groups having sought judicial assistance to strengthen their claim, they had announced that meetings of their respective executive committees would be held on Monday.

Attempts made over the past few days by officials and well meaning members of the community to avoid a showdown had gone in vain.

Consequently security was beefed up in various parts of the town particularly near the YBA headquarters. The Lord Wenlock Road was made out of bounds for traffic. With Mr. Buddhichandran’s group having entered the building, Mr. Gundan’s supporters were proceeding to it when they were stopped near the Youth Hostel. Charged for violating prohibitory orders which were in force under Section 30 (2) of Police Act, 421 persons including Mr.Gundan and Mr.K.Ramachandran, MLA (Coonoor) were arrested.

Speaking to The Hindu, the Nilgiris Collector Archana Patnaik said that though it was a community problem the administration had taken appropriate action to maintain law and order. When asked about the current status of the YBA premises, she said that as per revenue records the land had been alienated over 50 years ago subject to the fulfilment of certain conditions.

Mr.Buddhichandran said that as a ruling party MLA he was only interested in using the association for the uplift of the community.

Contending that the bargaining power will be more if those at the helm of affairs in the association have a good working relationship with the government, he said that if the scenario had been different on the political front he would not have asserted his supremacy. He added that he favoured a change in the name of the association from YBA to Nakkubetta Badagas Association as it would be more representative in its appearance and outlook.

However Mr.Gundan opined that the approach adopted by Mr. Buddhichandran and others in the ruling party was condemnable. He added that he was not in favour of dividing the association on political lines. Meanwhile observers said that the bickering within the YBA should not be treated as differences among Badagas in various parts of the district and elsewhere.

They added that such associations should always remain apolitical. Even if some misguided members try to assert their political views the leaders should nip such activities in the bud.