High tension prevailed at Kaniyur toll gate, about 15 km from Coimbatore International Airport, on Thursday when the police arrested leader of the opposition and DMK working president M.K. Stalin, and 100 other DMK partymen. Mr. Stalin was proceeding to Salem where he had planned to visit Kacharayan Lake in Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswamy’s constituency, when the police arrested him. Desilting and removing of silt by farmers at the lake had triggered clash between DMK and AIADMK functionaries recently.
Mr. Stalin was scheduled to attend a human chain protest opposing NEET in Salem on Thursday evening for which police had not granted permission.
It was also feared that Mr. Stalin's visit to the lake at Konganapuram in Salem rural would worsen the clash between the two parties and create law and order issues.
Though party functionaries who accompanied Mr. Stalin attempted to resist the police move, the leader was taken into custody. Over 500 DMK workers had gathered at the place extending support to their leader. More than 100 cadres who crossed police barricade were also arrested and removed from the place.
Ahead of his arrival at Coimbatore International Airport, huge police force was deployed at Kaniyur toll gate. Coimbatore Rural SP Pa. Moorthy was camping at the spot.
Before proceeding, Mr. Stalin had stated that he might get arrested before reaching Salem and urged supporters to resist the move by police.
DMK workers, with the support of a section of farmers, had desilted Kacharayan Lake at a cost of around ₹20 lakhs last month. They had also strengthened bunds of the lake which is spread around 10 acres.
Later, farmers supporting AIADMK allegedly collected silt for agricultural purposes by dismantling the bunds erected by DMK. This led to a clash between functionaries of both parties which was settled after district administration intervened in the matter. However, farmers owing allegiance to AIADMK allegedly continued silt removal barring the direction from district administration. Over 900 DMK supporters who staged district-wide protest in Salem against the move were arrested and later released on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, DMK cadre who were waiting to receive Mr. Stalin at Sankagiri staged a road blockade on hearing he was arrested in Coimbatore. The police were removing the DMK cadre at Sankagiri.
(with inputs from Syed Muthahar Saqaf)