A 20-year old victim of the November 7 caste violence against Dalits in Dharmapuri, who had fallen ill while taking part in a fast, died at the Salem Government Hospital (GH) on Monday evening reviving tension in the sensitive villages.
Relatives, human rights activists and cadres of Dalit outfits thronged the GH in large numbers demanding a probe into the death of the victim Mangamma as doctors allegedly failed to disclose the nature of her ailment.
A heavy posse of police was deployed at the hospital as well as her native village Natham Colony in Dharmapuri to prevent untoward incidents.
Mangamma had joined other villagers in the fast late last month demanding justice for the victims of the arson orchestrated by the Vanniyars despite suffering from mild fever. However, on the third day of the fast on November 30 she had swooned and was rushed to the Dharmapuri GH from where she developed seizures and high temperature. She was then shifted to the Salem GH in a police van where soon after admission she fell unconscious due to nasal and oral bleeding.
Her shaken father Anbu said Mangamma was suffering from mental depression ever since arsonists attacked the Dalit colonies. The caste Hindus had ransacked two houses belonging to the family and Mangamma was locked up along with 20 women in a house for safety but the attackers had broken into the house and set it ablaze. According to Anbu, 34 villagers who were on fast had fallen sick because they were exposed to mosquito bites and vagaries of nature. While she was hospitalised, activists belonging to various organisations including CPI (ML), Centre for People’s Civil Liberties and Tamil Nadu People’s Rights Movement had demanded better treatment.
K Rajalingam of Makkal Munnetram alleged that doctors started treating her only after the activists put pressure on them.
Anbu says nearly 34 people, who participated in the fast, have fallen sick and were treated in Dharmapuri GH. The reason according to him is because the people have been sleeping in groups in the open air ever since the arson incident and were exposed to mosquito bites and other infection.
Meanwhile, Dr N Vallinayagam, Dean, Government Mohan Kumaramangalam Medical College College, Salem said Mangamma was suffering from meningitis of the brain and was also suspected to have suffered from viral infection with symptoms of dengue or brain fever. But the type of fever was yet to be established.
In Dharmapuri, Harur MLA P Dillibabu urged the CM to grant solatium to the family of the deceased girl.