Tension in TN's Pootaloorani as villagers waylay minister

“Around 10 goons came wielding machetes, threatened and yelled at us for not casting votes,” a villager told TNIE on condition of anonymity.
The vehicle that entered the village with goons was loaded with weapons, including wooden logs and machetes.
The vehicle that entered the village with goons was loaded with weapons, including wooden logs and machetes.(Photo | Express)

POOTALOORANI: The poll boycott declared by Pootaloorani villagers took a violent turn on Friday, and only seven of the total 931 eligible voters of the village exercised their franchise. In addition to the seven villagers, 19 on-duty officials, who were issued election duty certificates (EDC), cast votes at the polling booth in Karungulam Panchayat Union Middle School here, an official said. Locals of the village had announced the boycott in protest against administrative inaction over the foul smell emanating from fish processing units functioning in the region.

On Friday, tense moments unfolded in Pottaloorani after the locals waylaid Fisheries Minister Anitha R Radhakrishnan and Ottapidaram MLA MC Shanmugaiah, who arrived to convince the protesting villagers against the poll boycott, from entering the village. Nearly an hour after the legislators were shown the doors, two vehicles suspiciously loaded with weapons, including wooden logs and machetes, carrying goons entered the village, sources said.

“Around 10 goons came wielding machetes, threatened and yelled at us for not casting votes,” a villager told TNIE on condition of anonymity.

According to sources, the assembled villagers rounded up the goons, and urged the police to arrest them. However, the police allegedly protected the goons from the mob.

Speaking to TNIE, one of the organisers of the protest said they (protesters) did not stop anyone from casting votes, rather the villagers themselves extended solidarity for the agitation.

Meanwhile, an elderly woman of the village said she refrained from casting votes in fear of an oral village order, which instructed them to boycott the poll. “If we violate the order, then it will result in ostracisation,” she said.

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