Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) youth secretary and former Union Minister Anbumani Ramdoss on Tuesday grew defensive and attempted to evade questions from journalists seeking to know why his followers had grown violent during a protest for reservation for the Vanniyar community. He claimed that his party and the community was being labelled as violent for actions done by someone else and accused the media of over-reacting to the situation.
20 members of PMK who were agitating for 20% sub-reservation in education and employment, threw stones at a moving train in Perungalathur Railway station in Chengalpattu. Some of the men were dressed in yellow and carried PMK flags. The train was forced to come to a halt as the windshield was damaged but the driver managed to take control of the situation and protected the passengers by not moving forward.
Journalists from various media outlets then asked Anbumani Ramadoss why his followers were damaging public property. The PMK leader however grew defensive and attempted to distance his party from the violence.
"Don't paint our community as violent. Don't create this image. This community is innocent. They don't know anything," he claimed. When pushed for an answer however, he stated that, "The police suddenly stopped them. The whole night they were travelling and didn't have water to drink or food to eat. And the police kept them there. Creating an image that they are violent is wrong. Our aim was to have a peaceful protests where there is no case against any of our supporters. Someone else has done this, you canâ€™t blame our party and community."
When asked further questions however, he became angry and demanded to know which channel the journalists belonged to.
Anbumani met both Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami and Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam at the Secretariat on Tuesday shortly after the protest. He said the two leaders had agreed to look into the PMK's demands for reservation. Anbumani further asked the AIADMK to look into the demands his party had made before the Lok Sabha elections.
"This is not a caste issue. This is not against any individual, community, political group or organisation. This is about social justice," he said about the demand for reservation. "This should be seen as development issue in Tamil Nadu. They (Vanniyar) are very behind in society. They are doing agriculture, live in thatched houses, they work on roads, build houses, break stones. We are very behind as a community. There is no development or job opportunities in north Tamil Nadu and so they are going to other states. Only if his community develops, Tamil Nadu will develop. The Chief Minister heard me out and said he will take a good decision," he added.