The police have secured 24 persons. A strong posse of police, including a contingent of women police, has been deployed in the village.
All along, the people of the village had been living in amity. But the peace was marred over collection of money for an ongoing temple festival.
According to Sakunthala, a widow, a gang armed with pipes and stones attacked her house. Spitting vengeance, it started breaking television sets, electrical fittings, utensils, steel cots and almirahs. Another group climbed the roof and broke almost all tiles. What was left now was a wooden frame.
Chellammal, wife of Palanisamy, said only recently did the family complete the terraced house by raising loans. It became a target, because the attackers could not tolerate a Dalit family living in a pucca house. Even her cow and two calves were mercilessly beaten up. Mrs. Chellammal’s house on the main road was also ransacked and all vessels beaten out of shape. Other huts and banana trees were also pulled down, and at least six more houses attacked.
The village leader, S.A. Arunachalam, said this was the first time such an incident occurred at Chukkampatti . For the past three years, the local Mariamman temple festival had not been conducted for paucity of funds. Hitherto, the festival was organised with funds, acquired through lease of a 14-acre temple land. However, as none came forward to take the land on lease for the past couple of years, the temple lost its revenue. Still, the people decided to celebrate the festival this year by collecting funds. But the organising committee did not cherish the idea of accepting money from the Dalits, who wanted to contribute.
Following a verbal duel, the Dalits attacked two intermediate caste youths. In retaliation, a 150-strong group swooped down on the Dalit habitations.