In front of one of the burnt houses at Kattayantheru lie a number of charred certificates, including ration cards and other important documents that belong to the members of the Marakkanam Dalit Colony.
“We have salvaged whatever we can, but most of us have lost documents including ration cards, mark sheets, birth certificates and death certificates. Many of us whose houses were burnt even lost currency notes they had been keeping with them,” said Narayanasamy whose house was the first one to be burnt in the violence that took place in Marakkanam on Thursday.
One of the women, Angalam bemoaned the loss of 10 sovereigns of gold that she had bought for her daughter’s wedding next month, while Mulliamma had lost the insurance money that she received as compensation for her husband’s accident.
According to the locals, the violence erupted around Thursday noon when a small group of Vanniyar Sangam members were drinking near the social forest on the side of ECR. When they were questioned, a larger group assembled immediately and entered the Kattayantheru area of the Marakkanam Colony through the forest armed with sticks and petrol bombs.
In the violence that ensued, huts, temples and even a cowshed and haystack were burnt. Other houses were attacked with stones and sticks. On Friday morning, the residents of the colony are trying to assess their loss and pick up the pieces of their lives.
The residents of the colony were forced to flee into the forest when they saw the mob approaching.
“Most of us don’t have anything left except the clothes that we are wearing. Most of the area has been destroyed and even the electric lines were cut in the violence. The attacks took us by surprise, since we did not expect anyone to enter through the forest. Unless they know the area well, they would have not known that the Colony is located just beyond the forest,” one of the residents said.
The 60 to 70 men who entered the colony were yelling abuses and harassed the women. They also took photographs of the destruction they caused claiming that they had to show it to their leader, the resident said.
“This is the second time the Vanniar Sangam has entered our colony and caused violence on Chithra Pournami. The previous time was in 2002 when they burnt a car and entered the village bearing sticks, but they did not cause much damage then,” a resident said.