fifty years ago December 27, 1968 Archives

From the Archives (Dec. 27): 42 persons burnt alive in Thanjavur village

Forty-two persons, were burnt alive last night [December 25] in Kilavenmani, a hamlet 15 miles from Nagapattinam. The victims are said to be mostly Harijans and the gruesome incident followed a clash between two groups of kisans. Twenty-five huts in all were burnt to ashes. The victims are said to have taken refuge in a hut, which was among those destroyed. It is stated in this connection that in Kilavenmani village, Marxist kisans had demanded six litres of paddy as harvest wages, which the landowners refused. Yesterday, harvesting was done in that village with outside labour, it is learnt, from a neighbouring village. While these outside labourers were returning home alter the day’s work at about 7 p.m. a group of about 200 persons are said to have attacked them, armed with deadly weapons. In the clash that followed one Pakkirisami Pillai, a farm labourer, sustained stab injuries which proved fatal. The outside labourers are then said to have run helter skelter and the attacking mob chased them. Later, at about 10 p.m. another group of 200 persons are reported to have marched to Kilavenmani village, where a clash followed. It is reported that gun-fire was also heard in the course of this clash.

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