Protest march by farmers on Mullaperiyar dam issue turns violent
State Finance Minister O. Panneerselvam's car was attacked by a mob near Lower Camp on the Theni-Kumuli highway on Sunday evening as a protest march and demonstration by farmers on the Mullaperiyar Dam issue turned violent.
When the Minister's convoy was trying cross a barricade erected by the police near the Lower Camp, an angry mob pelted the car with stones, broomsticks and footwear, condemning the government's “failure” to protect their interests.
The police resorted to lathicharge to disperse the crowd. Mr. Panneerselvam escaped unhurt.
As the news about lathicharge spread, protesters near Goodalur gathered on the Theni-Kumuli highway to block the convoy.
The Minister's convoy was diverted through a rural road near Suruli falls to reach Theni from Lower Camp.
A private van was set on fire in Cumbum town and window glasses of an NGO office near Lower Camp were smashed, the police said.
Meanwhile, the road blockade and demonstration by farmers and local people on the dam issue entered the seventh day on Sunday.
Movement of vehicles and transportation of commodities like vegetables, rice and milk was completely stopped owing to continuous stir.
Over 40,000 people from several villages in Cumbum valley and also from Kamayagoundenpatti, Surulipatti, Goodalur, Cumbum, Chinnamnur, Theni, Andipatti and nearby areas took out a rally towards the Kumuli check post, despite the barricades. Women carrying broomsticks too joined the stir and raised slogans against Kerala.
They demanded that the Tamil Nadu government pass a resolution to raise the dam level to 142 feet. Farmers, who could not participate in rallies, observed a fast. Collector K.S. Palanisamy and South Zone IG Rajesh Das pacified the protesters and asked them to go back.
The protesters returned to villages in the evening.