Alleging that the caste Hindu mob that went on a rampage at Ponparappi village assaulted and abused women and children, Evidence, a Madurai-based NGO that went on a fact-finding mission to the affected area on Sunday, asked the government to book all the accused persons under Goondas Act.
According to A Kathir, the executive director of the organisation, the group that indulged in violence on that day included those below 60 years – some as young as 10 years.
The mob was allegedly angry at the Dalits for campaigning and voting for the VCK, a predominantly Dalit outfit. “A political group has exploited the attackers, who belong to the Vanniyar community,” Kathir told DT Next.
A team from Evidence went on a field visit at Ponparappi on Sunday and interacted with the Dalits who lost their houses. Kathir also visited the Jayamkondam government hospital where the injured have been admitted.
At Ponparappi village, which falls under Chidambaram Lok Sabha constituency from where VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan contested, the three polling booths (282, 283 and 284) had about 690 voters. The Dalit youth from there were closely involved in campaigning for Thirumavalavan, while those from the Vanniyar community were campaigning against him, Kathir said.
“The Vanniyar community were desperate to defeat Thirumavalavan and there was enmity between the communities right from the beginning,” he added.
On the day of the polling, about 65 per cent of Dalits had cast their votes by 11 am itself. Irked by the high turnout of Dalit voters, a gang of 120 persons entered the hamlet around 2:30 pm and ransacked houses, alleged Kathir. “The way the incident unfolded, as narrated by the victims, was horrifying. Women were dragged on to the streets and their sarees were pulled. Children were kicked,” he added.
He demanded the government to book the accused under section 3(1)(o) for threatening the Dalits to not vote, under section 3(1)(t) for damaging the banners of BR Ambedkar and under section 3(1)(w) for abusing the Dalit women.
“The injured must be given Rs 5 lakh and every Dalit family should be given Rs 2 lakh. A fine of Rs 5 lakh should be levied on every person involved in the attack,” demanded Kathir.
AIADMK demands action
A joint statement from them blamed false messages spread on social media for the incident, and added that the district administration and police intervened at the right moment to ensure that law and order prevailed in the village.