Tirunelveli: The MDMK general secretary Vaiko-led anti-liquor stir turned violent in which six persons including two electronic media cameramen were injured at his native village, Kalingapatti near Sankarankoil near here on Sunday. Police used tear gas and resorted to a lathi-charge to bring the situation under control.
Villagers of Kalingapatti launched an agitation demanding the removal of a TASMAC retail outlet shop at their village on Saturday. Vaiko’s aged mother, Mariammal also participated in the agitation. The protesters dispersed on Saturday night to gather at the same place on Sunday.
But the second day's agitation turned violent when some agitators attacked the men who bought liquor at the TASMAC shop targeted for closure. Some agitators entered the shop despite police presence and threw liquor bottles onto the road. The agitators also hurled stones at police in which two policemen and two media cameramen sustained simple injuries. The vehicle driver of an electronic media team from Madurai sustained a head injury and a cop complained of chest pain. Both were rushed to hospital for treatment.
The VCK president Thol. Thirumavalavan, who was on his way to Tenkasi to attend his party function also joined hands with Vaiko and the ‘mob strength’ increased when VCK cadres joined the agitating villagers and MDMK cadres. During the melee, one villager climbed up a nearby mobile phone tower to protest, in the manner late Sasi Perumal did at Marthandam in Kanyakumari district two days ago. Even Vaiko could not control the fury of the mob and hence police resorted to a lathi-charge and used tear gas.
Vaiko then held talks with the Tirunelveli range DIG Murugan and the district SP Vikraman in a fully closed police vehicle. At the same time, the VCK leader Thirumavalavan was appealing to the people to maintain calm.
Later, addressing the people, Vaiko announced that they had withdrawn the agitation. However, Vaiko, however said that the agitation would continue in other peaceful forms till the TASMAC shop at Kalingapatti was removed. Despite the protests, the shop there did business for Rs. 5,500 on Sunday.G. SRINIVASAN adds from Thanjavur:
Meanwhile, the Tamil nationalist leader P Nedumaran, in a statement from Thanjavur condemned the police action against Vaiko. Government should have closed the TASMAC shop at Kalingapatti, but police using force there instead against the ‘peaceful’ agitators was condemnable, he said.