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Ramanathapuram, September 11, 2011
Five people were killed and several were injured when police opened fire to quell a violent mob which attacked police officers during the 54th "Guru Puja" (death anniversary) of veteran Dalit leader Immanuel Sekharan at Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram district today.
District Collector V Arun Roy here tonight confirmed the death of five people in the violence.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Ramanathapuram range) Sandeep Mittalm who suffered bleeding injuries on his head, was admitted to a multi-speciality hospital at Madurai for treatment.
The condition of a woman police sub-inspector, Daisy, attached to the All Women Police Station in Paramakudi was stated to be very critical and she was rushed to Madurai for further treatment.
Reports reaching here tonight said police opened fire on an irate mob which attempted to ransack the Ilayankudi police station in Sivaganga district to condemn the police firing at Paramakudi.
A plus two student R Anand (17), who sustained bullet injuries in the firing was rushed to the government hospital at Sivaganga in a serious condition. A large number of police men were deployed in Sivaganga to restore law and order.
With this, police resorted to firing in Ramanathapuram, Madurai and Sivaganga districts on a single day to quell violence.
Normalcy is slowly returning to riot-hit Ramanathapuram and Madurai districts. Additional police force drawn from neighbouring districts were deployed in Ramanathapuram to prevent further trouble.
Madurai district collector U Sagayam was besieged by the relatives of two youths, who sustained bullet injuries in police firing at Chinthamani check post during a violent incident.
When Mr Sagayam visited the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH) here late this evening to console the injured men, the angry relatives surrounded the official car of the collector demanding action against a police inspector who reportedly fired at the crowd.
Anxious moments prevailed at GRH, as some of the relatives squatted in front of his car. Mr Sagayam assured the agitators that their complaints would be looked into and action taken if the policeman was found guilty.
Police said violence broke out at around 1245 hours at Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram district after police arrested dalit leader and Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam founder John Pandian at Vallanadu in Tuticorin district when he attempted to take out a march to the Sekaran's memorial defying ban orders.
As the news spread, supporters of Pandian blocked traffic at Chinthamani Junction in Madurai district. When they pelted stones at the police and tried to attack an inspector, police opened fire injuring two people.
The trouble arose when the 3,000 strong mob assembled at the five-road junction and staged a blockade demanding the release of Pandian.
When police attempted to clear the road blockade, the mob pelted stones and attacked them with sticks. Police resorted to a baton-charge and later burst teargas shells.
The situation threatened to go out of control when the mob torched an anti-riot vehicle, damaged window screens of several vehicles and set fire to shops, huts and some police vans.
In a bid to protect the public property, police opened fire, killing three people on the spot and injured a few others. Another person succumbed to bullet wounds at the hospital.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Ramanathapuram range) Sandeep Mittal, Superintendent of Police K.A.Senthilvelan, Paramakudi DSP Ganesan were among the policemen injured in the attack by the rioters.
The area resembled a battle-field as police fought a pitched battle while chasing away the mob.
Reports said more than 3,000 police personnel were deployed on security duty to prevent any untoward incident. As tension prevailed, prohibitory orders were promulgated in Paramakudi and its surrounding areas.
Meanwhile, senior police officials left here for Madurai and Paramakudi to assess the situation in the violence-hit areas.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa condemned the violence and announced a solatium of Rs 1 lakh to those killed in police firing.
Accusing some people of indulging in violence to disrupt law and order and gain political mileage, Ms Jayalalithaa appealed to people not to indulge in such acts.
Describing the deaths as unfortunate, Ms Jayalalithaa said police were forced to open fire in self-defence in a bid to protect public property.
Meanwhile, leaders of various political parties condemned the incident and demanded a judicial probe into it.