The busy East Coast Road (ECR) that connects Chennai and Puducherry was blocked late on Thursday after clashes between Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) workers and Dalits at Marakkanam in Villupuram district. The entire stretch between Kottakuppam near Puducherry and Marakkanam, a coastal village nearly 129 km from Koyambedu, was littered with over 150 vandalised vehicles. A freak accident that killed a teenaged boy after he was run over by a vehicle when he was blocking the road with tree branches added fuel to the fire, police said.
It all began after PMK workers, who were on their way to Mamallapuram to attend the party’s annual Chitra Pournami rally, parked their vehicles near a forested spot and allegedly started drinking and creating ruckus. When local Dalit youth questioned them, they were reportedly beaten up. This triggered a chain reaction that ended in mob violence.
Ironically for a party that champions prohibition, its ‘spirited’, unruly cadre allegedly sparked the violence.
Soon, a small group gathered and took to the streets. Police fired in the air to disperse the crowd near the toll gate on the ECR. According to sources, at least 10 buses, five of which were State Transport Corporation buses, three cars, and three two-wheelers were set on fire.
The mob smashed windshields of several vehicles on the ECR stretch from Kottakuppam to Marakkanam. According to sources, Superintendent of Police Manoharan’s vehicle was also attacked by the crowd. Fire tenders had a difficult time reaching the spot to douse the flames. People gathered near a petrol outlet and staged a road blockade to protest the PMK cadre’s attack on locals. Several shops and houses on the ECR were attacked. At the time of going to press, the teen, who was run over, was yet to be identified.
The Medical Superintendent of the Puducherry Government Hospital said the boy was ‘brought dead’. Four others, including a reporter, who were injured were treated as outpatients. The entire stretch between Kottakuppam and Marakkanam was closed late in the day, effectively blocking traffic between Chennai and Puducherry on the ECR. Close to midnight, vehicles started rolling from Marakkanam to the Union Territory.