The village assistant was beaten up, dragged on road for 100 metres
Six men assaulted and tried to bury alive a village assistant who had gone to check on illegal sand mining at Jayapuram within Kandhili police station limits on Saturday evening.
The police said that the sand smugglers beat up S. Rajendran (50), dragged him on the road for 100 metres and pushed him into the riverbed in a bid to bury him under the sand when a young girl alerted the villagers. They rushed to the spot and rescued him.
A senior official of the Tirupattur revenue administration said that Sub-Collector Shilpa Prabhakar received a tip-off at 3 p.m. on Saturday on sand being illegally mined at Jayapuram, 12 km from Tirupattur.
She directed the Village Administrative Officer (VAO) of the Paniyandapalli panchayat to enquire. Mr. Rajendran, village assistant of Paniyandapalli, went to the spot at 4.40 p.m.
Recounting the incident, Mr. Rajendran, a resident of Jayapuram, said: “The VAO and Revenue Inspector were also on their way to the spot. I was returning to office after the jamabandhi at Tirupattur and reached Jayapuram quickly. Four men were loading sand on to a tractor.
“I took away the tractor keys and one of them called Tirupathi, the tractor owner. He rushed to the spot on a two-wheeler. The men roughed me up, carried me and threw me into a five-foot deep pit on the riverbed. They tried to cover me with sand when a girl raised an alarm and the villagers came to my rescue.”
On seeing the villagers, the gang fled and took away the tractor, leaving behind two motorbikes used by them.
The VAO and RI rushed him to the government hospital at Tirupattur. “Tirupathi has been involved in sand smuggling for long. We seized 50 to 60 loads of sand from his house and unloaded it at the taluk office recently,” he said.
A police officer attached to the Tirupattur sub-division said that Tirupathi of Annasagaram in Mallapalli was a “notorious” smuggler. “There are a number of cases against him. He has been engaged in sand smuggling with political backing for several years.”
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Tirupattur sub-division, G. Dharmarajan, said that a case had been registered against six persons on charges including attempt to murder, preventing a government official from discharging duty, rioting and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.
While five of the accused were absconding, one of the gang members Govindaraj (19) claimed to be injured in the incident and has been admitted to the GH.
The Sub-Collector told The Hindu that she would submit a report to the Collector on Monday. “We will take stringent action against the accused after conducting an enquiry. We will show that such persons cannot go scot-free and such incidents will not be taken lightly.”
She said that the Revenue Department required the cooperation of the police and Mines Department to check illegal sand mining.
“We need security when we go to such spots. Police personnel can accompany Revenue Department officials when they go for such checks.”
Revenue officials protest
Following the attack on the village assistant, employees of the Revenue Department from Ambur, Vaniyambadi and Tirupattur staged a protest near the Tirupattur taluk office on Sunday. After submitting a petition to the police demanding the arrest of the suspects, they warned that they would organise a district-wide protest if action was not taken.
“We need Police protection when we go for raids on sand smuggling,” said V.M. Nandiappan, taluk president of the Village Assistants Association.