fact finding report
The above team from different parts of Tamil Nadu concerned about social harmony and human rights are pained by the communal clash at Koothirambakkam, in Kancheepuram District on 29th March 2003. Hearing about the incident on the same night, human rights activists from Kancheepuram rushed to the village on 30th March 2003 in the early hours. The team has met both sides of the community. It has met with the daliths as well as the vanniar representatives, particularly the village Panchayath President Ms.Kasthuri.
Many a times the villages under the leadership of Mr.Madurai has threatened to convert to Islam. Everytime the District administration seems to have appeased them with some immediate benefits. It is believed that 3 years back the district administration gave fishing permission in the Periyeri tank which lies 5 kms away from the village to the dalits and this permission was got in the name of Mr.Arumugam. The same year when they decided to catch fish there was heavy rain and they were not able to catch fish in the particular season. Since then every year when the dalits attempted the caste hindus objected. The year 2003 being an unusually drought year, Periyeri tank was almost empty and the dalits decided to execute their rights.
They sold their right to a Kancheepuram based fishing community which is locally referred to as Sembadavars. On Friday they approached the local Panchayat President Ms.Kasthuri wife of Mohan who happened to be a caste hindu seeking permission to catch fish. They however denied permission saying that fishing would leave the tank water very slushy and it will be difficult to use the water for irrigation purpose. The dalits realised that by denying permission to them the vanniars have already started stealing the fish from the tank and so they decided to execute their rights on Saturday the 29th March. Eight fishing community members and around 10 dalit community members went to the tank for fishing around 2 p.m. Nearly 200 members from the vanniar community came with deadly weapons to the tank and objected and there were wordly quarrel. The use of derogative words against paraiyar caste resulted in clash. The vanniar group caught hold of 8 members and they were beaten and locked inside the Perumal temple which is located in the vanniar side of the village around 4 p.m. Of these 8 people 2 were from the fishing community (Mr.Durai Nadar and Mr.Ramakrishnan) and the other 6 were dalits.
Those dalits who were chased away from the tank ran to the colony. The caste hindu group which preceded to the dalit colony after the lockup show under the leadership of their panchayat president Kasthuri with sticks, Sickles and stones. They stoned the dalits and ransacked the group houses and huts. Household articles, cycles were broken to pieces and is found scattered all over the colony. They beat up old persons who were unable to run for safety. Mr Pandurangan S/o of Anandan whose house was broken and was pulled out of the house and beaten up. The incident was reported at the taluk office by Mr. Madurai around 3 p.m. When many of them ran to the fields, they were beaten up in the fields also. All these incidents happened in a matter of one hour. The people who ran away reported at the local police station.
The police came to the village around 8 p.m. and rescued the locked up people and they also took the injured to the Kancheepuram government hospital. About 18 injured are admitted in the hospital of whom 11 are women and 7 are men. The oldest is Visalam wife of Velu 80 years old and the youngest Rajiv Gandhi 12 yers old son of Murugan. It is said that 3 children Raja (14 years), Rajesh (8 years), Anbu (9years) are found missing from the village. Ms. Amsaveni W/o Anandan, who was returning to the village after some errand at Kancheepuram was beaten up in the field on her way back to the village. The FIR was filed on the basis of her statement.