Tamil Nadu to probe police assault on villagers

August 18th, 2008 - 8:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Aug 18 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu government Monday ordered a judicial probe into the police assault on villagers demanding rightful wages under the employment guarantee scheme. Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi announced the inquiry as well as compensation to those injured.

About 500 people, mostly women, in the Dalit-majority Rettanai village of in Villupuram district village, about 200 km south of Chennai, were Saturday protesting when police cane-charged them, local media reports.

They were protesting the payment of Rs.40 instead of the due Rs.80 per day of manual labour, as mandated by the National Rural Employment Guarantee (NREG) scheme.

The workers had blocked a state highway and demanded that the block development officer pay them the designated amount. Village council chief Kalaichalvan, a leader of the Democratic Youth Federation of India, led the protest.

Police used canes and batons and also fired teargas shells to disperse them even as the district administration was talking with their representatives. Two dozen people were seriously injured, including a teenager. They were taken to a government hospital in Puducherry for treatment.

With the Left parties and the PMK condemning the police action, the state government Sunday rushed a ministerial team to the village.

Local Administration Minister M. K. Stalin denied any irregularities in the NREG implementation. “It is a political conspiracy” against the implementing authority, he said.

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