People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 20

May 19, 2013




PMK Unleashes Casteist Violence in Marakkanam


S P Rajendran


RECENTY, once again, the casteist forces in Tamilnadu, and particularly the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) led by Dr Ramadoss, its founder, instigated widespread violence in the northern parts of the state. The PMK is in fact trying to jeopardise the peace and amity prevailing among the people by organising the caste Hindus against dalits. Last year too, it was the same PMK that had unleashed violence in Dharmapuri district against dalit people. This year they have shown their venom against dalits au Marakkanam in Viluppuram district, near Puducherry.




Violence broke out on April 25, Thursday, the day the PMK and Vanniyar Sangam, an organisation of caste Hindus and headed by the PMK’s assembly group leader ‘Kaduvetti’ J Guru, organised a youth festival in Mamallapuram.


At least five vehicles, including three state-owned buses of Tamilnadu and Puducherry, were burnt down and windscreens of more than 30 vehicles were smashed at different places along the East Coast Road (ECR) from Puducherry to Marakanam via towards Mamallapuram. Many residents of Marakanam, passers-by, passengers and onlookers were injured in the violence perpetrated by members of the Vanniar Sangam.


Meanwhile, some groups of persons entered at Kattayan Theru and Kazhikuppam, dalit habitations close to the main road in Marakkanam, set afire dalit houses and unleashed attacks for nearly five hours.


Then the Vanniar Sangam volunteers, who were asked by the police to return following the violence, smashed the tollgate on the ECR road, looted cash boxes, destroyed the CCTV and attacked the security personnel. They directed their anger also against the onlookers. The impact of the violence was felt all along a 30 km stretch from Puducherry to Marakkanam.




The state committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) vehemently condemned the attacks on dalit people. Also, a three-member MLAs team of the CPI(M), led by Central Committee member K.Balakrishnan, visited the affected Dalit habitations at Kattayan Theru and Kazhikuppam on April 28.


Besides K Balakrishnan, MLA from the Chidambaram constituency, the CPI(M) team comprised K Ramamurthi of the Vikkiravandi assembly constituency, G Bhim Rao of Maduravoyal constituency, CPI(M) district secretary T Ezhumalai and some leaders of the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF).


On the basis of its findings, the team blamed the Pattali Makkal Katchi for the violence.


In front of the burnt houses at Kattayantheru, the CPI(M) team saw a number of charred certificates, ration cards and other important documents that belong to the dalit families.


“We have salvaged whatever we can, but most of us have lost documents including ration cards, mark sheets, birth certificates and death certificates. Many of us whose houses were burnt even lost currency notes they had been keeping with them,” said Narayanasamy whose house was the first one to be burnt in the violence.


One of the women, Angalam, bemoaned the loss of 10 sovereigns of gold that she had bought for her daughter’s wedding next month, while Mulliamma had lost the insurance money that she had received as compensation for her husband’s accident.


According to the locals, the violence erupted around noon on April 25 when a small group of Vanniyar Sangam members were drinking near the social forest on the side of ECR. When they were questioned, a larger group assembled immediately and, armed with sticks and petrol bombs, entered the Kattayantheru area through the forest. In the violence that ensued, huts, temples, a cowshed and haystacks were burnt. Other houses were attacked with stones and sticks.


The residents of the colony were forced to flee into the forest when they saw the mob approaching. “Most of us don’t have anything left except the clothes that we are wearing. Most of the area has been destroyed and even the electric lines were cut in the violence. The attacks took us by surprise, since we did not expect anyone to enter through the forest. Unless they know the area well, they would have not known that the colony is located just beyond the forest,” one of the residents complained in detail to the CPI(M) leaders.




The 60 to 70 men who entered the colony were yelling abuses and harassed the women. They also took photographs of the destruction they had caused, claiming that they had to show it to their leader, the resident said. “This is the second time the Vanniar Sangam has entered our colony and caused violence. The previous time it was in 2002 when they burnt a car and entered the village bearing sticks, but they did not cause much damage then,” he said.


 “The state government should stop acting as a silent spectator to the mindless violence unleashed by the PMK supporters and take stringent action against those who indulged in violence,” said the CPI(M) team after hearing the woes of the dalit people.


Balakrishnan told that the district administration too acted in a lethargic manner and failed to render any help to the victims even four days after the violence. As many as 18 residents of dalit colonies sustained multiple injuries in the premeditated attacks and one of the injured, namely Settu, died in the Puducherry hospital.


The government should also initiate action against the district collector for failing to provide immediate relief to the victims, Balakrishnan said. He further said the CPI(M) has no objection to the PMK expanding its support base or even capturing power, but it has no right to carry out violent attacks on the downtrodden, destroying their tenements and ransacking their valuables.


“Why should the members on the way to attend the PMK’s youth festival carry weapons, wooden logs, petrol bombs and liquor bottles in their vehicles?” he asked. The CPI(M) legislators said they would take up the issue in the state assembly and prevail upon the government to arrest all those who indulged in violence, form a committee to assess the damage and give full compensation to the victims for the losses they had suffered.




On the next day, April 29, the CPI(M) raised the issue in the state assembly. The CPI and the VCK (Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi) joined with CPI(M) on the floor.


Vanniyar Sangam leader and Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) floor leader, Kaduvetti J Guru, who had earlier avoided attending the current session of the house, was present in the assembly to express his view.


After a heated debate, the chief minister, Ms Jayalalithaa, held the PMK and Vanniyar Sangam responsible for the violent incidents near Marakkanam and alleged that the organisers of the youth festival at Mamallapuram threw to the winds the undertakings they had given to the police, and violated the law. She warned that her government would not tolerate violence, would take stringent action, and show no mercy to those who instigated innocent people on communal lines for their selfish agenda.


Replying to a special mention made by the opposition in the assembly on the Marakkanam violence, the chief minister said she would invoke preventive detention laws against those who disturb harmony and peace in society.


But many of his remarks were expunged as they used the worst kind of language. Ms Jayalalithaa said though the organisers were told to end the meeting in Mamallapuram by 10 p m, PMK founder S Ramadoss addressed the gathering at 11.30 p m. “He declared that he has started at 11.30 (p m) and dared the police to file a case against him. His request has been accepted and we have filed a case. I hope he will be ready to face the punishment,” Ms Jayalalithaa said, wondering how Dr Ramadoss could guide the youth when there were used posters in praise of sandalwood smuggler Veerappan and when most of the participants were in an inebriated condition. “Does he want the youth to follow Veerappan? On the one hand, he is demanding total prohibition of liquor. But majority of the youth who attended the festival were in a drunken mood,” she said.


The chief minister alleged that the ancient monuments in Mamallapuram too were not spared by the participants and that the government had received a report from the superintending archaeologist (of the Archaeological Survey of India) about it. “Lakhs of people had swarmed inside the monument, damaged the fencing, lawn and garden, and climbed the historical monument to hoist some flags. The monument has been exposed to vandalism and destruction,” she quoted the archaeologist as saying.




After the warning issued by the chief minister in the assembly, the police arrested PMK founder Ramadoss and president G K Mani, along with several supporters of the party, when they tried to stage a demonstration at the Villupuram junction in defiance of the police orders on April 30. Hearing the news, members of PMK and Vanniyar Sangam unleashed violence across the northern districts again and disrupted the public transport to remote areas. For the next two to three days, the mob attacked many passengers and damaged hundreds of buses. One lorry driver killed in this attack.


Meanwhile, the Madurai bench of Madras High Court directed the Tallakulam police to register an FIR against PMK founder S Ramadoss, if any cognisable offence could be made out against him.


This order was issued on a petition L Meiyappan, a member of Tamil Puligal Organisation, had filed, alleging that Ramadoss had made ‘defamatory remarks’ against dalit youth during a public speech in Madurai last year. “Mr Ramadoss, in his speech, claimed that dalit youth married his community (caste Hindu) girls only to make money. The speech of Mr Ramadoss created an impression among the public that dalit youth lure young girls into marriage for money,” the petitioner said. The speech caused him mental stress and agony, the petitioner claimed. “Mr Ramadoss is a caste fanatic, who promotes enmity between two communities,” Meiyappan contended while seeking directions to the Tallakulam police to register a case against Ramadoss. He had given a complaint to the inspector of police (law and order), Tallakulam, on December 20, 2012, but the police did not register an FIR, he claimed. Therefore, he sent a representation to the commissioner of police, Madurai city, on January 8, 2013. However, again, no action was taken in the matter, he further claimed.


In his judgement, Justice M Sathyanarayanan directed the inspector of Tallakulam police station to look into the complaint and register an FIR if any cognisable offence could be made out. “The inspector is duty bound to register an FIR, carry out the investigation in accordance with law and file a final report.”


Two days later, on May 5 morning, a team of policemen from the Kancheepuram district went to the house of Dr Anbumani Ramadoss, former union minister and son of Dr Ramadoss, in Chennai, to inform him that he was arrested in connection with a case filed by the Mamallapuram police under sections 143, 147 and 188 of IPC, read with section 7(1) (a) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, subsequent to the youth festival organised by the PMK and Vanniyar Sangam in Mamallapuram.


Members of the PMK and Vanniyar Sangam then unleashed violence and damaged public buses again. But arrests are continuing. The CPI(M) has condemned the violence and asked the government to restore normalcy in the northern districts of Tamilnadu.