Police use force to disperse them

A protest organised by farmers against the Kerala government's stand on the Mullaperiyar dam issue turned violent in Theni district on Wednesday and the police used force to disperse them at Goodalur and Cumbum.

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam cadre blocked roads connecting Kerala with Theni, Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts. Reports of damage to vehicles were received from these places. MDMK general secretary Vaiko was held at Chinnamanur when he attempted to join the economic blockade.

The police lobbed six rounds of teargas shells and used force to disperse a violent crowd at Lower Camp. Two police vans were damaged and 13 persons, including three police personnel, injured.

A huge group was lathi-charged at Goodalur when it indulged in indiscriminate attack of vehicles and shops. Thousands of people, who came in vans and tractors, were stopped near Lower Camp by the police. Similar gatherings were witnessed at Goodalur and Cumbum, where a police van was overturned using a tractor.

Mr. Vaiko, who was taken into custody along with Tamizhar Desiya Iyakkam leader P. Nedumaran, told reporters that the Kerala government should realise that the stir had transformed into a people's movement in Tamil Nadu. It would not stop till Kerala gave up its move to decommission the Mullaperiyar dam and increased the water level to 142 feet. The government should ensure the safety of Tamils living in Kerala and of pilgrims visiting Sabarimala.

Puthiya Tamilagam leader K. Krishnasamy, who led a demonstration in Theni, urged the Union government to intervene and get the dam level raised to 142 feet. The Congress should also restrain its Kerala unit from attempting to precipitate the issue.

Road block

Over 1220 MDMK workers, including State propaganda secretary Nanjil Sampath, were taken into custody when they blocked traffic on the Tamil Nadu-Kerala border near Shencottai. The movement of vehicles was hit on the stretch. The police used mild force to disperse a group that attempted to block traffic at Shencottah to protest the attack on vehicles of Ayyappa devotees in Kerala.

Forty seven members of the Mallar Naadu were detained by the Tirunelveli city police when they attempted to lay siege to the residence of Congress MP S. S. Ramasubbu.

Over 1000 activists of the MDMK in Kanyakumari district were held when they staged road blockade at Kaliyakkavilai near the Kerala border. Earlier, they took out a procession from Kuzhuthurai to Kaliyakkavilai and burnt an effigy of Kerala Chief Minister Ooman Chandy. All shops and business establishments remained closed at Kaliyakkavilai.

Vegetable traders put up the shutters in Nagercoil.

Four special teams have been formed in Kanyakumari district to ensure smooth operation of inter-State bus services, said S. Lakshmi, Superintendent of Police.

Bus services in Theni district were curtailed and buses plied only up to Chinnamanur.

Lorries remained off the road in of Kanyakumari district owing to the road blockade. Secretary of the Kanyakumari District Lorry Owners' Association Ganesan said that they would not transport any goods, including vegetables and flowers, to Kerala till a solution was found.

Members of the Madurai Bar Association were detained when they blocked the Chennai-bound Guruvayur Express at Madurai Railway Junction. They shouted slogans against the Kerala government.

(With inputs from K. Raju in Theni, P. Sudhakar in Tirunelveli and P. S. Suresh Kumar in Nagercoil)