Rumours add fuel to dam-row fire in Kerala, TN

via V R JAYARAJ-KOCHI-DAILY PIONEER published on December 20, 2011

Rumour factories in Kerala and Tamil Nadu are working overtime spinning stories about non-existent attacks against Malayalees in Tamil Nadu and Tamils in Kerala in the context of the inter-state standoff over the Mullaperiyar dam issue.

Leaderships in Kerala and Tamil Nadu have been trying to reassure the people that there is no need to panic but fear is mounting in both states as rumours about fresh violence are pouring in everyday. Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said on Tuesday that vested interested were behind such rumours.

Rumours of attacks on either Keralites in Tamil Nadu or on Tamils in Kerala have been spreading ever since the evening of December 10 when about 200 Tamils sneaked into Kerala territory at Rosapoonkandam near the inter-state border at Kumily in Idukki district and pelted stones on some houses causing injuries to four persons.

The incident had caused escalation in tension on both sides of the border. Reports of stone-pelting on vehicles of Tamils in Kerala and attacks on Malayalees and shops and commercial establishments owned by them in Tamil Nadu, especially in Theni district bordering Kerala’s Idukki district where the Mullaperiyar dam was situated, followed.

“Though some unfortunate incidents have indeed taken place since the row over the dam started last month, 95 percent of the reports about attacks on Keralites in our state are nothing but lies,” said an official heading a Tamil Nadu Police company deployed at the Kumily border. “Spreading such rumours is not going to help either of us,” he said.

The official said that certain TV channels and newspapers – in both states – were doing a disservice to the society by publicizing such rumours about non-existent violence. “When our people hear of an attack on a Tamil Nadu registration vehicle in Kerala, they automatically think of a retaliatory act. This is not good,” he said.

The official, who could read Malayalam, pointed out that if the reports appearing in Kerala newspapers on attacks on Malayalees in Theni district everyday were true most of the hospitals in the district should have been filled up with the victims by now. “But have you heard of a single man admitted to any of our hospitals with injuries?” he asked.

Shaheen S, a student from Kochi doing hotel management course at a Coimbatore college, said that Malayalee students in Tamil Nadu were becoming victims of rumours. “At several colleges, the managements are sending students home fearing attacks by local people. But no student has been attacked so far in any of the Coimbatore colleges I know of,” he said.

Chief Minister Chandy had the other day instructed the Kerala Police to provide the best security possible to Tamil pilgrims visiting Sabarimala in the context of rumours spreading in Tamil Nadu about attacks on them. He also told the police force that even stray incidents of attacks could not be tolerated.

Sources in the Kerala Home Department said no Sabarimala pilgrim from Tamil Nadu had been attacked inside the State during the current Mandalam-Makaravilakku season. They said some incidents of blocking the pilgrims’ vehicles had taken place – especially in the border areas – but these had not led to violence.

Top Kerala Police officials feared that anti-social elements in both states could cash in on such rumours. A group of people had reportedly raided a house the other day in Chavakkad, Thrissur where several Tamil migrant workers had been staying together and robbed them of over Rs 10,000 using the Mullaperiyar issue as a diversion.

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