Police say there were vastly outnumbered and far more people than they had anticipated showed up.

Chinna Salem school in ruins after mob attack
news Protests Sunday, July 17, 2022 - 17:55

At Kaniyamoor Sakthi Matriculation School smoke billows from many windows. There is broken glass everywhere. Multiple small fires are still burning. Furniture from the classrooms are strewn across the campus and only charred frames remain of the school buses. The angry mobs that did this have been cleared now by the police, leaving behind scenes of ruin. 

The town of Chinnasalem in Kallakurichi district, near which the private school is located, has been on the boil ever since the death of a class 12 student. The day following her death, the family and relatives of the girl had staged a sit-in blaming the school management and demanding action against them. The protest began to swell after alumni and the general public joined in but violence broke out on the morning of July 17, Sunday. Police vans were torched after protesters broke through barricades and clashed with police. Mobs also attacked the school campus with some ramming the school buses with tractors. Later, the buses were set on fire. 

The school’s alumni and the family of the deceased girl allege that she was assaulted prior to her death. They also contest the point that death was a suicide, alleging foul play which the school attempted to hide. Alumni also claim that there have been multiple instances of abuse in the school. A protester TNM spoke to said that Sunday’s protests were organised through WhatsApp groups formed in the last few days but were intended to be peaceful. Like others at the protest site, he alleges that there has been no transparency from the school’s part regarding the investigation. 

At this point, it is unclear how exactly the protests turned violent. A cop TNM spoke to said that they had underestimated the number of protesters expected to show up on Sunday. Though only three hundred to four hundred people were expected, many more turned up and the police were vastly outnumbered. It is not clear at present what the precise number of protesters were but from available visuals from the morning, it appears there might have been several thousands present at the time of the violence. The police have received flak from the Opposition and others for not gauging the mood on the ground, which in turn led to their inability in controlling the large crowd. 

At the time of filing the report, there is an uneasy calm in the neighbourhoods surrounding the school. Police are patrolling the streets, hitting bikes that pass by with their lathis.  

Read: TN student death: Hundreds storm school, set police van and school buses on fire

In light of the tense situation, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of the CrPC have been imposed in Kallakurichi taluk from July 17 to July 30. The orders are in place in all villages within the Kallakurichi circle and Chinnasalem circle, as well as Chinnasalem subcircle and Nainarpalayam circle. Earlier today, following the outbreak of violence, both Chief Minister MK Stalin and Director General of Police Sylendra Babu appealed for calm. 

Chinnasalem student death: Hundreds storm school, set police van and school buses on fire:

 

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