However, the unofficial toll has been put at five.
The crowd gathered to pay homage to Dalit leader Emmanuel Sekaran, killed during the 1957 caste riots between Thevars and Dalits in composite ramnad district, turned violent as they learnt about the arrest of another Dalit leader John Pandiyan near Tuticorin.
Police sources from the district head quarters of Ramanathapuram told Deccan Herald Pandiyan’s supporters in Paramakudi, on hearing his arrest, pelted stones at the police on bandobast.
The crowd that had gathered to mark Emmanuel Sekaran’s death anniversary in the town, started demanding the release of John Pandiyan, who is founder of the Dalit outfit Tamizhaga Makkal Munnani Kazhagam’ with support in the region.
Police resorted to lathi charge after their warnings to the restive crowd went unheeded. With a rioters setting ablaze to the police riot control van, they had opened fire to quell the violence. A few cops were also said to be injured. Even as additional Police reinforcements from neighbouring districts were rushed to Paramakudi, about 50 km from Ramanathapuram town, the situation is under control. A senior police official there confirmed that John Pandiyan’s arrest had set off “repercussions and the situation is tense.”
In Chennai, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa expressed regret over the killing of the three persons in police firing. She condemned the violence which she claimed had been fomented by political vested interests.
“I appeal to the people to maintain calm and not to fall a prey to such acts of violence instigated by a few persons for political gains in a bid to ruin the law and order situation in Tamil Nadu,” she said.
She said John Pandiyan defied a prohibitive order to enter Ramanathapuram, issued in the interest of communal harmony and was therefore arrested near Tuticorin.
Appealing to the protestors to desist from such violence, including in Madurai to where it had later spread, the chief minister said the Ramanathapuram Range DIG, Sandeep Mittal and Paramakudi town DSP, Ganesan were among the several police officers injured in the incident.
The CM announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1 lakh to each of the three affected families. She also announced solatium of Rs 1 lakh to the family of a deceased school student, Palainikumar of Pacheri village in Ramanathapuram district, who was brutally killed in a separate incident on Saturday by some miscreants.