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All-out efforts to avert communal flare-up

Coimbatore March 29 . While the police are speeding up investigation of the two murders which whipped up a communal frenzy in Coimbatore district, the Hindu Munnani has called a 12-hour hartal in the district for tomorrow.

Sensitive pockets of the city and suburbs have been gripped by tension following the murder of a medical shop owner, Sultan Meeran, at RS Puram here on Tuesday night and an RSS activist, Murugesan, at Kuniamuthur on Thursday. With the strengthening of security and deployment of additional police there have been no major untoward incidents in the last 36 hours. Reinforcements of the AR, TSP, CRPF, RAF and SAF from neighbouring districts have also been mobilised.

The Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order), K. Natarajan, told The Hindu that vital clues were being pursued by special teams and a breakthrough was expected within the next few days. ``Only then could the motive for the murders be established''.

The DIG, Coimbatore Range, Ashutosh Shukla, said four special teams were working on the RSS activist murder case and the Rural SP, R. Dhinakaran, was exclusively put in charge of the investigation. Two officers in the rank of SP, S. G. Rajendran (Nilgiris) and P. Kandaswamy (Commandant of Madurai Battalion) who earlier served in Coimbatore, were drafted for maintaining law and order in the rural district.

The Commissioner, Narinder Pal Singh, said that in addition to Puri Kamal, first accused in the Sultan Meeran case (who surrendered at Erode), another person was identified and the police were hopeful of nabbing him soon. Persons with criminal antecedents were taken into preventive custody irrespective of their religion, Mr. Singh said. The police were also interrogating three undertrials in communal cases, now on conditional bail, as they failed to appear before a magistrate on Thursday morning, sources said.

Mr. Natarajan said the police had a ``clear directive'' to ensure peace and normal life. As a matter of ``abundant precaution'' nearly 100 persons were taken into preventive custody. Every effort was being taken to ensure that there was no communal flare-up as an offshoot of these two murders. Addressing a press conference, the Collector, N. Muruganandam, the City Police Commissioner and the DIG said the police had adequate reinforcements to maintain law and order.

They warned that violators of the law would be dealt with severely. The city was limping back to normal and the economy showed signs of revival. At this juncture, maintenance of peace was a must, and they declared the hartal ``illegal''.

The Hindu Munnani State Organiser has called the hartal to protest the murder of Murugesan and the ``delay'' in apprehending the culprits.

Expressing concern over rumours, the Deputy Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, P. Balasubramanian, said the City Intelligence Unit, had nabbed a youth, Deepak Menon, who was on a business visit from Kochi, as since last night he was found sending information, through Short Messaging Services (SMS) on his mobile-phone, which would trigger panic.

After tracking down his location, the police rounded him up this afternoon in front of a city hotel.

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