THENI: Police opened fire to quell the spiral of violence between two communities during the funeral procession of a local Forward Bloc functionary at Allinagaram in Theni town on Saturday.
Police said firing was resorted to after the Superintendent of Police J Mahesh and seven cops were injured in the violence.
Clashes erupted after a person was fatally knocked down by a tractor in the funeral procession of S R Tamilan (35), district general secretary of Forward Bloc, at Ambedkar street.
It is said those who participated in the procession threw garlands on some persons and raised objectionable slogans against another community. Further the tractor strayed and knocked down one Pallupandi alias Ramar, who succumbed to injuries on the spot.
Angered at this, residents of Ambedkar street hurdled stones on the procession. Shops were also damaged. As information spread, several persons from both the communities assembled at the spot with weapons and attacked each other.
When the armed groups refused to disperse, police used force. The mob continued to hurl stones at the police in which two cops were hacked with sickles and rushed to the Theni government hospital. The SP too was injured. Then, police opened fire in air. The mob hurdled stones on a government bus also.
Meanwhile, residents of Ambedkar Street resorted to a road blockade halting traffic on the Periyakulam-bound State Highway, seeking action against the perpetrators and also hurdled stones on shops and buses. Police canecharged the mob and cleared the road. Public transport was suspended after the violence.
Additional forces from neighboring districts have been deployed to prevent further violence.