70 held for burning Dalit houses in Villupuram

Section 144 imposed; tension in the village since 2012 over temple festival

Updated - March 29, 2016 03:49 pm IST

Published - August 17, 2015 12:00 am IST - VILLUPURAM:

VILLUPURAM, 16/08/2015: (FOR PAGE 4) The Mariamman temple car, which was at the centre of the dispute at Sankarapuram in Villupuram District. Photo: Special Arrangement

VILLUPURAM, 16/08/2015: (FOR PAGE 4) The Mariamman temple car, which was at the centre of the dispute at Sankarapuram in Villupuram District. Photo: Special Arrangement

Over 70 persons were arrested on Sunday for burning and damaging houses of Dalits during temple car procession at Seshasamudiram village in Sankarapuram taluk in Villupuram.

Trouble started on Saturday evening when a group of Vanniyars dug up the path so as to block the way of the temple car procession even though they agreed to the path of the procession during the peace talks with the Dalits. When the procession was on, the Vanniyars dug up the path and when the police personnel attempted to prevent them, the group, including women, started pelting stones on them and hurled petrol bombs at the temple car damaging it, police said.

Seven police personnel including Villupuram District Superintendent of Police Narendran Nair were injured in the incident. .

The mob then smashed the street lights and snapped the power supply before launching yet another round of attacks on the houses of Dalits. One thatched hut of a Dalit was torched completely and a few other houses were damaged as the mob lobbed petrol bombs. Police had fired two rounds in the air to disperse the crowd.

Villupuram District Superintendent of Police Narendran Nair told The Hindu that “over 70 persons have been taken into custody for indulging in violence. Police pickets have been posted to keep the situation normal. So far things are normal and revenue authorities have also issued prohibitory orders.”

The arrests were made under Sections of The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities), Indian Penal Code and The Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act for offences including arson, unlawful assembly, damaging public property and preventing police personnel from discharging their duties.

M. Lakshmi, Villupuram District Collector; Villupuram DIG Sumit Saran; and SPs from Villupuram, Cuddalore and Tiruvannamalai are camping in the area. Police sources added that they are on the look out for Subramanian who allegedly fomented the trouble.

According to police, tension has been brewing in this agricultural village of over 2,000 people since 2012 over pulling the car of deity of Mariamman temple, located along a predominantly Vanniyar neighbourhood.

Revenue officials held peace talks between the Vanniyars and Dalits and decided that the car festival would be held on August 16. Both sides had agreed to let the car along a public path.

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