TIRUNELVELI: Tension broke out at Kalingapatti, the native village of MDMK leader Vaiko, in Tirunelveli district after anti-liquor campaigners, during the course of a protest by the party, ransacked a State-run wine shop there on Sunday.
Police resorted to lathicharge and lobbed teargas shells to quell the protesters.
The liquor shop run by Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation, popularly known as TASMAC, at Kalingapatti was opened about 7 years ago despite stiff opposition by the public.
In the wake of Gandhian and anti-liquor crusader Sasi Perumal’s death on a mobile tower during a protest for the cause at Marthandam near Nagercoil on Friday, the demand for prohibition has gained momentum in the State.
While Vaiko’s wheel chair-bound 94-year-old mother Mariammal spearheaded a protest on Saturday to close down the shop, the MDMK leader led the agitation in the village on Sunday.
As the protestors laid siege to the retail liquor outlet in the afternoon, buses were diverted. Police held talks with Kalingapatti panchayat president and Vaiko’s brother Ravichandran but in vain.
Soon, according to eyewitnesses, a scuffle erupted between the protestors and the police. In the melee, some of them marched to the shop and ransacked it completely following which police used force and fired teargas shells. In retaliation, they pelted stones.
“Vaiko, however, prevented them from going into the shop,” his brother Ravichandran said. He also alleged that Vaiko sustained injuries in the incident.
The protest came to an end by 7 pm as Vaiko returned home after Tirunelveli Range DIG S Murugan held talks with him. Later, VCK leader Thol Tirumavalavan called on him at his house.
Superintendent of Police V Vikraman told Express, “Unlawful assembly of protestors ransacked the shop. Hence, we used mild force and lobbed three rounds of teargas to control the crowd.”
Police claimed that inspector Kamaraj and another cop were injured in the incident.
The situation, however, has been brought under control and heavy police picketing has been posted.