Staff Reporter

Supporters go on the rampage "The police arrived only after the miscreants left on their own"

TAMBARAM: More than half-a-dozen houses were damaged in Kelithippettai village in Sirukalathur panchayat near Kunrathur on Sunday, after the attack on Harikrishnan, panchayat president.

Residents of Kelithippettai and Sirukalathur said that far from being an isolated instance, the attack formed part of a cycle of revenge indulged in by rival factions.

In 2003, supporters of All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam damaged houses after Anbu, husband of Ranjitham, then president of the panchayat, was hacked to death.

Anbu had earned the trust and goodwill and his popularity cut across political affiliations, according to residents. He used to discourage youth from resorting to violence and never flaunted his political strength, preferring to be alone or with a very small section of people at any time, they said. One of the accused in the murder case was Vairam, elder brother of Harikrishnan, elected panchayat president this year after defeating Ranjitham.

The residents said the elections were intensely contested and alleged there was large-scale rigging on the day of elections to local bodies. The village comes under Kunrathur panchayat union.

On Sunday, a section of youth, reported to be members of the ruling DMK and supporters of the panchayat president, went on a rampage and ransacked Ranjitham's house. They also set fire to the house of Nagammal, mother of Ranjitham. The thatched hut was completely gutted and a milch cow was charred to death. Women said they were shocked at the manner in which the youth went around the village, damaging property and throwing stones at them. Some of the women, who requested not to be named, said they saw youth hurling petrol bombs at the thatched hut of Nagammal. The youth also took away jewels from Ranjitham's house, the women said, adding that houses of others were also targeted.

Though armed police rushed to the spot and brought the situation under control, women complained that the police arrived only after the miscreants left on their own.

Crimes by organised gangs and political clashes are not uncommon in areas on the western fringes of Chennai city. Battle for quarrying and land rights is among the most important reasons for such incidents to take place here.