Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore and its neighbouring textile town of Tirupur witnessed numerous incidents of property destruction and tense standoffs on Friday after mobs held protests over the murder of a Hindu Munnani leader, C Sasikumar.
Members of the outfit pelted stones, damaged shops and commercial establishments, and forced public transport off the roads after Sasikumar was hacked to death by four unknown assailants on the outskirts of Coimbatore on Thursday night.
Hindu Munnani state president Kadeswara C Subramanium issued a statement blaming the police for being unable to prevent a series of brutal attacks on his cadre members.
“The government should ensure that such incidents should not happen in the future, or else it will lead to a situation of Tamil Nadu becoming another Gujarat,” Subramanium warned.
Public transport, autos and taxis stayed off the road after the outfit called for a bandh. Most commercial establishments were also closed down as well.
Local Tamil reports said that petrol bombs were hurled at two mosques in the city, but the police commissioner denied them.
Police resorted to lathi charge near Vincent road in Coimbatore. Private bus services were suspended for the day, but state buses plied with police protection.
Following the violence, police were posted in large numbers at the government hospital where Sasikumar’s body was sent for postmortem. Senior police officials were also sent to the spot to bring the situation under control.
Sasikumar was attacked late on Thursday night, and suffered 11 deep cuts. He later died of his injuries in the Coimbatore Medical College and Hospital. The 36-year-old was one of the Hindutvaa group’s official spokespeople.
A senior police officer said that six teams were out to nab the culprits responsible for the gruesome murder.
In nearby Tirupur, a strong hold of the organisation, shops, hotels and other commercial establishments remained closed, as well as in other major towns, including Udhagamandalam in Nilgiris district.
Coimbatore has a history of violent clashes; in 1998, it witnessed serial bomb blasts during senior BJP leader LK Advani’s election rallies, claiming close to 60 lives. There was arson and rioting that followed these blasts.