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Elopement sparks clash, houses set afire near Periyakulam

K. Raju
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Dalit settlement looks deserted; 12 arrested; peace meet held

Houses that were gutted in a clash at Melmangalam near Periyakulam on Monday.
Houses that were gutted in a clash at Melmangalam near Periyakulam on Monday.

Uneasy calm prevailed in Melmangalam village on Sunday night, after some unidentified persons set fire to six houses and threw stones at six other dwellings, in a clash that broke out following an elopement of lovers belonging to two different communities.

On information, police rushed to the spot and arrested the suspects.

The injured Muthulakhsmi, Easwari, Kavya (7), Vana Raja and Nagammal were admitted to Theni Government Medical College Hospital for treatment.

The irony was that the family members of both the boy and girl were not affected in the attack.

The entire stretch, where Dalits lived, wore a deserted look as majority of them had fled in fear. Many residents were unaware of the incident. “When we came back from work, the houses were gutted,” said locals.

Police said B. Suresh and S. Muthulakshmi of Melmangalam village had been in love for a long time. Both parents objected to the affair and tension sparked when the Dalit youth eloped with the upper caste girl five days ago.

The upper caste people summoned Dalits and warned them to bring back the girl immediately. The hapless boy’s family members said that they did not know their whereabouts.

Twelve persons – Dhanasekar, Arjunan, Jayakumar, Azhagu, Pandi, Lakshmanan, Periya Perumal, Sivakumar, Murugan, Sonai, Karthi and Dalit Murugapandi - were arrested in connection with the clash.

Cases were filed under section 147, 148, 294 (b), 307, 323,234, 336 and 341 of IPC, Women Atrocities Act and PCR Act.

Meanwhile, District Revenue Officer Soma Pandian disbursed compensation of Rs.5,000 in cash, saris and dhotis, rice and kerosene to Thangam, Murugan and another Murugan and Rs.2,500 to Muthu, Sendrayan and Manigandan as their houses were partly damaged on Monday.

Revenue officials convened a peace meeting.

Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO, appealed to the State government to pay more compensation to Dalits and detain the accused under Goondas Act.

All accused in the clash should be arrested, its executive director A. Kadir said in a press release.

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