Even as tension prevails in Kumbakonam town, Tamil Nadu, over the murder of a PMK functionary on Tuesday night, five persons have been arrested in connection with the case. Ramalingam, a Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) functionary in Thirubuvanam, Kumbakonam town, was attacked on Tuesday evening, after which he succumbed to his injuries. The attack happened after he was seen in a video having an altercation with a couple of Muslim men who were allegedly in the area to proselytise.
Speaking to TNM, police officials confirmed that five persons had been arrested in connection with the case: Mohammad Azaruddin, Mohamma Riaz, Nizam Ali, Sarbuddin and Mohammad Riaz. The Superintendent of Police of Thanjavur, Maheshwaran, told TNM that Nizam was seen in the video and he was a member of the Popular Front of India (PFI). The SP did not confirm if the other four were from PFI and said that this would be revealed only after investigation.
The accused who were brought in for investigation on Wednesday will be produced before a magistrate.
Thanjavur Superintendent of Police Maheshwaran told reporters that three special teams have been formed to nab other suspects in the murder. He added that investigations were on and that the assailants would soon be nabbed.
A case was registered under Indian Penal Code Section 302 (Punishment for murder), based on a complaint filed by Ramalingam's son. Ramalingam's body has been handed over to his family.
Around 250 police personnel have been deployed in and around Kumbakonam fearing unrest.
Meanwhile, PMK chief S Ramadoss, in a strongly-worded statement on Wednesday, claimed that Ramalingam was attempting to prevent a religious conversion. This version of events has not been confirmed by the police.
"No one with a conscience will accept the heinous murder of someone who opposed religious conversion. Such acts are against humanity. Such acts, ruining religious co-existence and stoking communal violence should not be permitted," said Ramadoss.
A group of unidentified men assaulted 42-year-old Ramalingam, a PMK functionary, on his way back home and chopped his hands off with billhooks. Ramalingam, who was bleeding profusely, was rushed to a private hospital in Kumbakonam. The doctors in the hospital referred Ramalingam to the Government Medical College and Hospital in the main city. However, Ramalingam died due to excessive bleeding on his way to the hospital.
The Thiruvidaimaruthur police investigating the murder suspected that the murder is related to an argument he had earlier that day. “There is a habit among the Muslims in the town to visit the localities dominated by the people from their community and preach about the religious practices and the greatness of Allah. Generally, the ones who visit the villages restrict themselves to the Muslim-dominated areas only,” the police had told TNM. But on Tuesday, the group that came to preach had allegedly visited a street which had a large number of residents belonging to the Dalit community.
“Ramalingam had, coincidentally, gone into the street to pick up a few men who were working for him, in his catering business. When he saw the group of Muslims speaking about Islam there, he raised questions and as those men retaliated, an altercation ensued. The issue was also sorted out by the Muslim clerics in the afternoon,” the police had said.
(With inputs from Megha Kaveri)