Kallakurichi riots: 300 miscreants nabbed, some came from western Tamil Nadu
Rumours alleging that she'd been sexually assaulted and murdered were shared on several social media groups with a video of the girl's mother speaking of the death.
Published: 21st July 2022 04:05 AM | Last Updated: 21st July 2022 04:05 AM | A+A A-
KALLAKURICHI: Over 300 people have been arrested in connection with the riot at Kallakurichi on July 17, police said. Some of them hail from northern and western districts of Tamil Nadu, suggesting the reach of the messages shared on social media that called for a protest over the death of a girl at a private school last week.
Police said most of those held are under the age of 30, and at least 20 are minors. Some of the men who participated in the violence arrived at Kallakurichi on July 16. Police and villagers said none of the rioters bore political or caste markers.
The girl’s family staged protests on July 13, when she died, and July 14 but it was on July 16 - after the first autopsy report came out - that her family and a large crowd protested outside the Kallakurichi Government Medical College Hospital and later at the Four Roads Junction.
"That day, hashtags related to her death started trending on Twitter. But calls for protest were made mainly on FaceBook and WhatsApp," said a cop involved in the inquiry.
Rumours alleging that she'd been sexually assaulted and murdered were shared on several social media groups with a video of the girl's mother speaking of the death. Police have invoked sections of the Tamil Nadu Women Harassment Act in the FIR on her death. "Soft copies of posters calling people to join the protest near the school were shared. We suspect the rumours agitated the youth," said a source.
One poster on a Facebook page 'Tirukoilur Nagaram' said that with the support of the villagers, youth and students of villages near Chinnasalem, a protest would be held on July 17 in front of Sakthi Matriculation Higher Secondary School.
"Injustice was done to the girl. Everyone should join the effort to get justice for her. Many truths are hidden, we should bring them out. Protest together, victory is ours," it said.
The elder brother of a youth from Elavanasurkottai in Villupuram, who was arrested for rioting, said the family didn't know he'd gone for the protest. "He usually goes to play with friends on Sundays. We learnt of his involvement only after his arrest," he said.
Many of the parents and relatives of youth arrested, who were waiting at Kallakurichi court, had similar stories. On the morning of July 17, few police personnel were deployed near the school.
"Slowly more protesters joined in and suddenly a large number of people pushed over the police barricades and entered the school. Police were unable to stop them," said a villager from Kaniyamoor. A source from the police special branch (intelligence) said they had estimated over 1,000 people would gather. "But more than 2,000 came as it was a Sunday. Only some of them turned to rioting," the source said.
Police said not only did some people use the opportunity to steal items from the school during the riot, they also got complaints of nearly 15 cows going missing from villages in Chinnasalem station limits at the time.
Videos of unidentified youth taking cows through farmland are now viral on Kallakurichi-based social media groups. Meanwhile, police debunked claims of videos that showed the sons of the school correspondent roaming around the school.
Police said the visuals were of CCTV footage of theft at a school in another district and warned of action against those spreading fake news.