The Thamizhaga Vaazhvurimai Katchi cadres’ attempt to lay siege to Pepsi’s upcoming bottling plant in SIPCOT’s Industrial Growth Centre at Gangaikondan near here ended in a lathicharge by police, leaving ten persons injured.
Condemning Pepsi’s reported plan to draw around ten lakh litres a day from the Tamirabarani at 3.75 paise per litre for manufacturing beverages in its proposed plant at Gangaikondan and the functioning of South India Bottling Company, which is manufacturing Coke’s aerated soft drinks, the Thamizhaga Vaazhvurimai Katchi had announced that the party cadres would lay siege to the unit on Tuesday.
When around 400 protesters, including about 150 women, led by its founder president T. Velmurugan, descended on the 40-foot road branching out from the Tirunelveli–Madurai National Highway towards the beverage giant’s upcoming unit in the Gangaikondan SIPCOT Industrial Growth Centre shortly before noon, he was stopped at the entrance of the industrial complex.
He asked his supporters to court arrest at the end of the protest. Though a good number of police personnel had been deployed at the protest venue as part of the security measures, they had not brought adequate number of vehicles to transport the protesters after arresting them. Even as the protesters were asked to get into the two waiting police vehicles after the brief agitation, women had to wait for a while for additional vehicles to arrive at the spot, which upset the organisers as they feared that the women members might stop the buses passing through the highway to reach their homes without getting arrested. When a couple of the local leaders of the party asked the police to bring the vehicles as early as possible, around twenty cadres stood on the highway first and then squatted on the busy thoroughfare. Some of them removed from by the police.
As a few others resisted, the police resorted to lathicharge. “Why are you using force against the cadres of a party that extends unconditional support to the ruling party,” Mr. Velmurugan asked the police.
Around 25 persons received blows, some of them suffering bleeding injuries. They were taken to the Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital.
“We’ll stage a protest in front of the DGP’s Office tomorrow, condemning the police brutality,” Mr. Velmurugan said.