At least three tenements were destroyed and a sugarcane farm was partially destroyed in arson, and five dwelling units were ransacked, during a clash in Meliruppu village near here on Wednesday.

At least six persons, including a woman, sustained bleeding injuries.

Police sources said trouble started after some persons in a tipsy state made uncharitable comments, provoking passersby. There was also a claim that a wordy quarrel between a Dalit resident of Muzhavan colony and a person belonging to another caste led to the clash.

In the melee, three huts belonging to the Dalit community were destroyed. Another was partially burnt. Four tiled houses were ransacked and damaged.

Four Dalits have been admitted to Panruti Government Hospital and two persons belonging to the other community to Cuddalore Headquarters Government Hospital.

Superintendent of Police A. Radhika rushed to the spot and restored normality.

Meanwhile, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol.Thirumavalavan told reporters that the incident starkly reminded one of the violence unleashed by the intermediate caste on Dalits in Dharmapuri.

He termed the Meliruppu incident a pre-planned attack on Dalits and condemned the recurrence of such incidents. He alleged that a political party, enjoying the backing of a casteist organisation, was fomenting trouble.

Mr. Thirumavalavan urged the government to invoke the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against those behind the Meliruppu violence.

He also demanded that the government shift all TASMAC outlets from the vicinity of Dalit colonies.