21 held on charge of attacking Arundathiyar families in Tiruvannamalai, SC/ST Act invoked
Tiruvannamalai, Jan 19 (PTI): Police in Tiruvannamalai district, about 194 km from Chennai, arrested 21 people on Wednesday under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Act for attacking Arundathiyar members (Scheduled Caste), ransacking their houses and damaging their vehicles at the remote Veeralur village in the district.
The indiscriminate attack on the Arundathiyar families by a group of people objecting to carrying the mortal remains on the main road instead of the usual path on which they carry their dear departed for the last rites caused apprehension among the Arundathiyars. Following the attack, the district administration and police swung into action and averted a clash. “The situation is under control. We have deployed a strong posse of police to ensure peace in Veeralur,” a senior police official said.
Confirming the arrest of 21 people under SC / ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Act, he told PTI on Wednesday that the authorities’ top priority is to ensure a decent burial for the dead and to thwart any attacks.
The SC members had to take out a funeral procession on the main road on January 11, as the usual path was damaged due to the rains. This was later objected by several members of other castes in Veeralur located near the sequestered Jawadhu Hills. On January 16 the SC members decided to carry a woman who had died at the Government District Headquarters Hospital, Tiruvannamalai, on the main road again but this was strongly opposed. The administration and police had to intervene and ensure a decent burial, a revenue official said.
Videos of a group ransacking the houses of Arundathiyars and damaging their vehicles went viral in the social media on Sunday. Immediately, police rushed to the village to avert a clash.
Senior police officials, including Z Annie Vijaya, DIG (Vellore Range), Tiruvannamalai district collector B Murugesh, Superintendent of Police A Pavan Kumar Reddy (Tiruvannamalai) and Deepa Satyan (Ranipet Superintendent of Police), held peace talks with the members of both the communities on Monday to allow the Arundathiyars to carry the dead on the main road till the regular path is restored.
A senior official said former Madras High Court judge Justice P R Sivakumar who was appointed as chairperson of the newly-constituted State Commission for SC/STs visited the village and took stock of the situation. He directed the officials to redress the grievances of the Arundathiyars and also take steps to prevent any attacks on them in future.