Tamil Nadu

PMK agitation in support of reservation for Vanniyars paralyses traffic

Traffic on GST Road in the southern suburbs of Chennai was paralysed for over two hours on Tuesday morning, after PMK cadre blocked the road near Perungalathur when the police prevented them from entering the city for a demonstration seeking 20% reservation for Vanniyars in government jobs and higher education.

The Kollam-Chennai Express, coming from Thiruvananthapuram, was stoned and halted for over 10 minutes between Vandalur and Tambaram in Chennai. Traffic was also blocked for a while on the Chennai-Bengaluru Highway near Vellore and Sriperumbudur.

The Government Railway Police booked the cadre for rioting and causing damage to public property.

Later in the day, PMK youth-wing leader Anbumani Ramadoss, who addressed cadre on Anna Salai, met Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam and senior Ministers at the Secretariat. While the State government described it as a “courtesy meeting”, Mr. Anbumani told journalists that he reiterated his party’s demand for 20% reservation.

“We organised protests in Chennai today. Our cadre were stopped by the police, but we reiterated that the cadre should remain calm. When the protests were taking place, the Chief Minister invited us, and we explained our demands to him. We said this was not a caste issue. This is not a protest against a political party, an organisation or any other community. This is a social justice and development issue,” he said.

According to him, while every fourth person in Tamil Nadu was a Vanniyar, they had fallen behind in terms of education and jobs.

Socially backward group

“They are in agriculture, they are laying roads and working as masons and living in huts. They are socially backward. There are no industries in regions where there is no development or jobs. They are forced to migrate for work,” he said.

Mr. Anbumani said the Chief Minister promised that he would examine their demands.

He appealed against creating a perception that the Vanniyar community was violent. “This is a 40-year-old issue. We have not received justice. We are against violence,” he said.

Earlier in the day, the Chengalpattu police detained protesters and took them to a community hall, restoring traffic on GST Road after a couple of hours.

A Southern Railway official said that cases had been registered based on a complaint lodged by Anbalagan, station manager, Tambaram, who stated that about 50 PMK members had rushed to the track and staged a train-picketing agitation and pelted stones, damaging two headlights of the locomotive of the Kollam-Chennai Express.

On seeing the protesters, the loco pilot stopped the train, which suffered a detention of about seven minutes.

Later, between 10.30 a.m. and 1.30 p.m., about 300 PMK cadre squatted on the railway tracks and placed barricades, iron railway signal boxes, sand bags and huge rails, across the track, obstructing trains.

Due to this, the Karaikudi-Chennai Egmore and Madurai-Chennai Egmore express trains were regulated at Vandalur and Chengalpattu stations respectively. Fifty unknown PMK members have been booked.

Investigators are perusing video footage to identify the suspects in both cases.

“Throwing stones is an offence under Section 154 of the Railways Act and is punishable with imprisonment for a term that may be extended to one year, or fine, or both,” a senior official said.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2021 11:20:24 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/pmk-agitation-in-support-of-reservation-for-vanniyars-paralyses-traffic/article33226064.ece

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