//Kandadevi festival: police plan to arrest Dalit activists alleged

Kandadevi festival: police plan to arrest Dalit activists alleged

Hindu, 8 July 2006, Tamilnadu

SIVAGANGA: With just a day left for the car festival at Swarnamurtheeshwarar temple in Kandadevi,the Federation of Dalit Liberation Organisations has alleged that the police plan to arrest Dalit activists before dawn on Sunday, the festival day.

Federation president V. Karunanidhi said the police had already started threatening office-bearers and leading activists of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Makkal Puthia Thamilagam, Dalit Panthers of India, Uzhaikkum Makkal Urimai Iyakkam, Dalit Pengal Kootamaippu, Soviet Makkal Munnani, CPI(ML) and Immanuvel Peravai. A State office-bearer of the BSP had been placed under house arrest, he alleged.

Mr. Karunanidhi said the police had thrown a "security ring," preventing office-bearers from meeting their followers or organise meetings to chart out the festival plans. The Dalit organisations were prevented from holding a meeting convened at Devakottai on Friday. The movement of Dalits had been curtailed.

Mr. Karunanidhi said as in the last two years, the police and the district administration had selected 25 Dalits to participate in the festival.

Several check-posts had been erected and armed policemen posted in Dalit villages to confine them to their houses. Barricades had been erected to prevent Dalits from entering Kandadevi area.

Police deny charge

However, police denied the charges. Superintendent of Police S. Nallasivam said so far no one had been arrested or detained in their homes. Some mischief mongers, who had lost the Dalits' confidence, were levelling false allegations to foment trouble.

Mr. Nallasivam said routine surveillance measures were on to conduct the festival peacefully. Police pickets had been put up to instil confidence among people. Irrespective of caste, everybody could participate in the festival, he added.