|Thousands protested Sunday against police detention of Dalit leader John Pandian. Photo L. Balachandar/ The Hindu|
Five people were killed Sunday in Tamil Nadu when police opened fire after an angry protest against the detention earlier of Dalit leader John Pandian turned violent.
Pandian was en route to attend a commemoration of the death anniversary of Dalit leader Immanuel Sekaran at Paramakudi in Ramanathapuram when he was detained by police, supposedly as his presence would ‘incite’ caste tensions.
But the arrest did just that.
Clashes between protesters and police broke out after crowds blocked roads outside Paramakudi to express their anger.
More than 3,000 people went on the rampage, throwing stones and setting shops, police vehicles and buses ablaze, reports said.
Police used tear gas and batton-charges before opening firing at the crowd, killing five people. About 50 others were injured in the violence.
Thirty vehicles, including buses, police vehicles were damaged,
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa defended the police firing as “self-defence” and blamed some people for disrupting law and order “for their own political gains.”
She also announced Rs 100,000 compensation from the Chief Minister's Relief Fund to the next of kin of those killed.