A group of persons stoned a fuel station and damaged lorries bearing Kerala registration numbers around 12.30 p.m. even as MDMK leaders were addressing a protest meeting on the Mullaperiyar dam issue a few yards away.

“About 20 people threw stones at the cash counter, the office and also at parked lorries,” said M. Prakash a petrol bunk attendant.

The protesters did not spare the cashier either. V. Sunil Kumar, the cashier, said the protesters after learning that he hailed from Palakkad thrashed him.

The Coimbatore district police removed 4,200 persons at K.G. Chavadi, Vezhanthavalham, Gopalapuram, Anaikatti, Walayar and Valandaiyamaram.

More than 50 persons forcefully entered an Ayurveda medicine manufacturing unit at Makkinampatti in Pollachi and destroyed machines and other properties. A bakery and a milk vending shop, both run by Keralities, were damaged by miscreants in Anaimalai.

In Salem and Namakkal, the Tamil Nadu Lorry Booking Agents Federation (TNLBAF), a consortium of 35 booking associations across the State, began an indefinite strike on lorry load bookings to Kerala. Its president E. Rajavadivel told The Hindu that the strike would continue till the Union government comes out with an amicable solution on the Mullaperiyar dam issue.

“Around 20,000 to 25,000 trucks from Tamil Nadu carry loads to different parts of Kerala on a day-to-day basis”, the TNLBAF president said. “A major share of the goods carried to Kerala are sugar, turmeric, oil, cement and iron rods. The prices of essential items such as vegetables have already started going up there,” he added.

“However, booking of essential commodities such as medicines, vegetables, milk and food items will be exempted from the strike keeping in mind the hardship of the common man in Kerala,” he added.

“The federation has organised a meeting on Thursday after which, we would be sending representations to the Union government and the governments of both the States to bring about an amicable solution to the dam issue”, he concluded.

In a related development, the State Federation of Lorry Owners Associations – Tamil Nadu (SFLOATN) said trucks owned by members of all the 123 associations attached to the federation participated in the 12-hour truck strike.

“The regular truck movement from Tamil Nadu to Kerala dropped to 40 per cent after tension gripped Kumily over the Mullaperiyar row,” SFLOATN president K. Nallathambi said.

In Udhagamandalam, high drama was witnessed in Nadugani near Gudalur on the Nilgiris-Kerala border. Responding to a call given by MDMK chief Vaiko, hundreds of party functionaries and cadre marched towards Vazhikadavu across the border. They were joined by representatives of many public welfare organisations. Business establishments in Nadugani and the adjoining areas remained closed.

As a measure of precaution, security was beefed up. The slogan shouting protesters were prevented by riot police who had erected barricades. Superintendent of Police S.Nizamuddin said protesters violated the prohibitory orders and 224 protestors were arrested.

A car with a Kerala registration number proceeding on the Marappalam road was stoned by a group who had come on motorcycles.