Police presence keeps situation under control

An uneasy calm prevails at Sankarankoil which witnessed a pitched battle on Tuesday night between two communities though the situation is fully under control with people going about their business as usual on Wednesday, thanks to police action.

Police are probing the presence of a Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam member, who was walking along with the Dalits during the procession and disappeared before the riot broke out.

Apart from arresting 19 persons, including Sankarankoil municipality's DMK councillor N. Syed Ibrahim (42) of ward 17 — all allegedly involved in the clash and also in the arson in which 15 shops were destroyed — police are on the lookout for more rioters. Fifteen persons, including five police personnel, who were injured in the clash, are undergoing treatment in hospitals.

“Based on the information we've collected so far, a massive hunt is on to nab all those who were involved in the clash,” said Deputy Inspector-General Police, Tirunelveli Range, V. Varadharaju.

Over 800 policemen have been deployed at Sankarankoil and the entry of the community leaders into the riot-affected town has been banned. Consequently, all business establishments, except those run by a community, remained open throughout the day and all educational institutions functioned normally.

With the police patrolling Sankarankoil town, normality returned on Wednesday morning with town and mofussil buses plying as scheduled.

When a small group of people resorted to stone pelting, the police chased them away. Strong police forces were deployed near places of worship.

Though the police initially denied permission for offerings at a temple, Mr. Bidari, who ensured a strong police deployment there, allowed it later but refused permission to the Dalits to take out a procession prior to the ritual.

When Revenue Divisional Officer Elangovan invited five representatives from both sides for reconciliatory talks scheduled to be held at the Taluk Office, the community heads reportedly told the revenue officials that they would discuss the issue and the subsequent arrests made by the police in their meetings first and then attend the meeting to be conducted by officials.

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