Two Dalit men were killed and three were injured after a clash broke out between the Dalit and Vanniyar communities near Tamil Nadu’s Arakkonam on Wednesday night.
According to police sources, an argument broke out between a group of youngsters from the Dalit community, who were driving to Guruvarajanpettai, and another from the Vanniyar community. Arjunan (26) from Soghanur village and Suriya (26) from Sembedu village were stabbed to death with knives and bottles while three of their friends – Madhan, Vallarasu, and Soundarajan were injured.
Four persons – Sounder, Nandakumar, Ajith and Madan – have been detained, the Arakkonam police said.
The bodies were sent to Tiruttani Government Hospital for autopsy.
Later that night, residents of Soghanur village staged a ‘rail roko’ demonstration demanding swift action against the perpetrators.
State-wide Protests by VCK
Police claimed that the violence occurred due to an ego clash, but Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) has alleged that this was a caste-based crime against Dalits. An angry VCK has alleged that the violence was started as one community feared losing the Assembly elections.
VCK chief Thol Thirumavalavan has accused the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) of indulging in ‘casteist campaigning’. He also accused Palani, an AIADMK party secretary, who has been allegedly involved in sand smuggling, of instigating the violence that resulted in the murder of the two youths.
“VCK demands arrest of PMK caste fanatics and sand Mafia gangs,” he tweeted. The party has called for a protest at all district headquarters on 10 April.
Thirumavalavan strongly condemned the incident calling it an attack by ‘murderous fanatics’.
VCK has has emerged as the only face of assertive Dalit politics in the state. Their rival, Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK), is rallying for the rights of the Vanniyar community. The two parties have often clashed, especially for reservation rights for their respective communities.
In the 2021 Assembly elections, VCK contested in an alliance with Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) and Congress while PMK went with All Indian Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The election in this constituency was a contest between S Ravi of the AIADMK and Gauthama Sanna of the VCK.
“Dalits have been attacked at several places in Tamil Nadu after the voting concluded. The fear of losing the elections has caused some from the AIADMK-BJP-PMK alliance to indulge in violence. Violence against Dalits has also taken place in Kattumannarkoil, Vaanur, Thiruporur, Krishnagiri and Ariyalur constituencies,” Thirumavalavan mentioned in his note.
He also claimed that Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami encouraged caste-fanatics for his own political gains. “Caste fanatics are unable to digest the fact that the DMK-led Secular Progressive Alliance, which includes the VCK, will achieve a massive victory in the Tamil Nadu legislative Assembly elections. These murders are proof that these religious and caste fanatics have a dangerous plot to destroy Tamil Nadu. In these circumstances, we call upon all democratic forces to condemn this caste atrocity in the strongest terms,” he said.
The Arakkonam police officials have denied the claim, terming it an ego clash and not a political issue.
The Quint tried reaching PMK leaders but didn’t get a response.
The hashtag 'Ban PMK' is being used on social media to demand justice for the murders.