Carnage, firing kill two; leave behind fears, tears

March 10th, 2008 - 1:11 am ICT by admin  

(Lead)

Eraiyur (Tamil Nadu), March 9 (IANS) Tension gripped this little hamlet in Tamil Nadu, lying in ruins following Sunday’s clashes between two groups belonging to a minority community that left two dead in police firing. While police dismissed the incident as yet another minor law and order problem, villagers in Eraiyur, 205 km south of Chennai, remained distraught.

“Our men folk have deserted the village because of police oppression,” said Pappamma, 63, amid rubble of what was her hut. Her two sons have fled.

“I hope that neither of them is injured in the firing,” she remarked wiping tears, looking sick with worry.

Only women, children and bovine animals were left in two sections of the village that looks as if hit by a tornado.

Trouble arose earlier in the day when the faithful sought recognition for a shrine in the poorer quarter of this habitat from the local diocese, leading to an altercation and arson.

A posse of police that tried to enforce peace was pelted with stones from both groups resulting in a volley of bullets that left two men belonging to the upper-caste Vanniyar community dead and three critically injured.

Superintendent of police K. Amalraj and four other police officials sustained minor injuries.

Over 250 heavily armed policemen were now camping in the neighbourhood.

“The very fact that journalists are able to visit the village proves that the situation is very much under control,” Director General of Police P. Rajendiran said.

“Skirmishes between the upper and lower caste sections are nothing new in the district. But this is the first time that members belonging to the same minority community fought for worshipping rights, something usually done by the majority community.

“This only goes to show that our people have to learn about peaceful coexistence much more regardless of religious denominations,” Rajendiran commented further while reacting to repeated queries about the sudden unrest.

Hindu religious leaders blamed proselytising missions for the violence.

“Those who converted the masses here in the name of a better god and an egalitarian society have actually worsened the situation. This only exposes the hollowness of conversions,” commented Hindu Front leader Rama Gopalan.

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