MAYILADUTHURAI: A scuffle broke out between CPM cadre and police in Mayiladuthurai on Monday as farm workers belonging to the SC community in Melaparuthikudi village near Kuthalam opposed direct sowing undertaken by those farmers predominantly belonging to the caste Hindu community. Direct sowing leads to loss of livelihood and it is caste-motivated, the farm workers alleged.
Farm workers and CPM cadre, led by senior party functionaries P Srinivasan and S Durairaj, on Monday morning tried to stop a group of farmers who were sowing directly under police protection. In the scuffle that broke out, Mayiladuthurai DSP M Vasantharaj was allegedly assaulted.
"We have arrested about 39 people in connection with the incident. We booked them under IPC 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his duty), 147 (rioting), 148 (rioting with deadly weapons), 448 (trespassing), 427 (damage to properties) and 506 (criminal intimidation),"
Durairaj said, "It is not just about direct sowing. The SC community people are oppressed. The move to resort to direct sowing itself is targeted at the community. It will deny them of employment."
The caste Hindu farmers prefer direct sowing over methods involving manual labour, like transplantation, the farm workers alleged.
The sowing issue, which developed over the month, led to a peace meeting a few days ago. However, no conclusion was arrived at then. Revenue and police officials had advised the farm workers to look for work under the MGNREGA scheme in the case of loss of livelihood, and underlined that the government
encourages farmers to opt for direct sowing.
P Sankar, a 54-year-old farmer from Melaparuthikudi, said, "We prefer direct sowing because it is economical and reduces investment. The cost of manual labour can be saved."
CPM cadre protested across blocks in Mayiladuthurai, alleging bias shown by police. A few residents were arrested for allegedly blocking roads.
The root of the conflict could be traced back to last February. According to police, farmer workers from SC community organised a temple festival and tried to take the processional deity through the streets where caste Hindus reside. The latter opposed it. Though the idol was taken through an alternate route, a
few men from the SC community allegedly assaulted caste Hindus.
"Based on a complaint, we had booked seven persons and Section 107 was invoked in the village," a police official from Kuthalam said.