18 Held for Quarry Clash Get Conditional Bail
VELLORE: Villagers of Kalathur organised a warm welcome on Tuesday evening for 18 persons of their village who were granted conditional bail after being arrested and imprisoned for 14 days following a group clash on June 3 that had arisen over the quarrying of sand in the Palar River bed near their village.
“After producing two securities for each of the 18 before the court, we bailed them out,” said Jessy of Makkal Mandram, an organisation working for the upliftment of Dalits and Tribals and which has been supporting the villagers’ solidarity against sand quarrying in the area.
The Judge of the Principal District Court, R V R Deenadayalan, granted conditional bail for the 18 and directed them to sign a register everyday in the Judicial Magistrate Court-I in Salem until further hearing.
The Judge, in his order, also requested the police to produce one 17-year-old Chinnarasu, (who was also arrested in the group clash) before the Juvenile Justice Board on Wednesday to determine his age. If the board ascertains that he is a minor, then he shall be released, unconditionally, as per the Juvenile Justice Act.
Kalathur’s villagers hailed the 18 persons released on bail and garlanded them after they emerged from the prison’s premises at about 7 pm.
The clash between two groups in the village arose when the sand mafia bribed around 30 families into accepting money in return for allowing the quarrying of sand in the riverbed. However, other villagers opposing the sand quarrying began protesting against it. With tensions simmering between the two groups for several months on this issue, it came to a head on June 3, when the two groups clashed. Police arrested 24 villagers from both groups. Of the 24 villagers, 19 villagers, including six women, were against the quarrying of sand. Chinnarasu, also one of the 19 villagers, was taken to borstal school and his age will be established by the Juvenile Justice Board.