VILLUPURAM: Thirty houses, four vehicles and several other properties were vandalised in a Dalit colony on Wednesday, allegedly by caste Hindus from Anathur village in Villupuram district.
Residents say the violence was a result of a Dalit man eloping with a caste Hindu girl, whom he married a month ago.
“A few policemen were deployed outside our colony since Tuesday night but around 300 caste Hindu men entered around 9 am on Wednesday morning, went into almost all houses and broke windows, gas stoves, TVs, washing machines, refrigerators and vehicles,” said a resident.
“The violence continued till 10.30 am,” he said, alleging that a 4-year-old child was also injured in the incident. Police say that the couple, who have been in love for the last eight years, have gone into hiding.
Following the incident, around 200 policemen have been deployed in the colony and in Anathur but the prime suspects are still missing. While the colony residents have listed out 20 names, police have managed to detain only three for inquiry. “The rest would be taken into custody by night,” assured police superintendent S Jeyakumar.
“Our action to prevent the incident, which happened in the morning, was delayed as enough cops were not deployed,” admitted Jeyakumar. “Now, we have given them complete protection. A riot-control van has been stationed.”
The couple had been studying microbiology in the same college at Cuddalore. The man’s friends say the couple had been in a relationship since their school days.
A month ago, they registered their marriage in Cuddalore, the police say. The couple hid the marriage from their families. But the woman’s family came to know about the marriage, a week ago, and the couple ran away.
The woman’s kin then filed a case with the Thiruvennainallur police and cops inquired the man’s family members to get any details of the couple’s hiding.
“I never knew my son was in love with someone. He had kept it a secret all these years,” says the man’s mother (50). “If the girl was from our colony, we would have somehow identified her. But they had only met in college and so we were unaware of what happened there.” Kaliyaperumal, a senior person in the colony, says they hoped the situation will be under police control.
“But the caste Hindus from Anathur went on a rampage in the colony on Wednesday,” he says, recalling the last such communal conflict in 1987.
Ilayaperumal (23), a labourer in the colony, says a similar incident had already happened in the woman’s family, a few years ago.
“A cousin of the woman married a Scheduled Caste man. Keeping the incident in mind, the caste Hindus decided to teach a lesson to Dalit men, threatening them not even to lay eyes on caste Hindu girls.”
Ganapathy (42) from the Dalit colony says some caste Hindu men, including relatives of the woman, allegedly threatened residents of the colony. “They said that they would ravage our colony like Athipatti [In reference to a Tamil movie].”