Fearing unrest over the murder of a Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) functionary allegedly by members belonging to a minority community, around 250 police personnel have been deployed near Kumbakonam in Thanjavur district.
The incident happened on Tuesday night in Thirubuvanam. A group of unidentified men assaulted the 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 the way to the hospital.
Narrating the sequence of events that led to the attack on Ramalingam, a police officer at the Thiruvidaimarudhur police station told TNM that they suspect that the murder is related to an argument he had with the members of the minority community though it is not clear when the altercation took place.
“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 officer 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,” explained the police officer. The police further suspect these men could have chopped off Ramalingam’s hands in order to settle the score.
Following this incident, around 250 policemen have been posted in and around Kumbakonam fearing communal unrest in the area. Ramalingam’s body has been handed over to his family and the police is yet to nab the accused. An FIR has also been registered under section 302 (Murder) of the IPC.