While one succumbed to the injuries on Saturday night, two others died on Sunday triggering a backlash in the southern districts. The police personnel, who were heaving a sigh of relief that tension was dying down, were once again on their toes as security was tightened in southern districts. Window panes of five buses were damaged in stone pelting incidents that followed the news of three deaths.
The three were identified as G Jayapandi, 19, S Sundarapandi, 20 and R Vetrivel, 18, all hailing from Puliangulam village. Twenty-one, people including the three visited Pasumpon in Ramanathapuram district on October 30 to participate in the Muthuramalinga Thevar Jayanthi celebrations and were returning to their village when a gang pelted petrol bombs on the vehicle they were travelling near Chintamani on the outskirts of Madurai. While all the passengers suffered burn injuries, four people suffered grievous injuries. They were rushed to the Government Rajaji Hospital (GRH), from where they were shifted to various private hospitals in the city. Jayapandi, who was being treated at a private hospital in K K Nagar died on Saturday night. A large number of his relatives and villagers thronged the hospital throughout the night. The body was sent to the government hospital in the morning for post-mortem. The news of the death of two others triggered further tension.
The villagers refused to receive the bodies demanding arrest of the culprits. Senior revenue and police officials, including SP V Balakrishnan rushed to the GH as tension mounted and managed to keep the angry villagers under control. However, as they took the bodies to the villages, they threatened the shops and trade establishments in the way to shut down. Police said that one suspect in the petrol bomb attack has been detained.
Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa on Sunday condoled the deaths of Jayapandi, Sundarapandi and Vetrivel and announced a solatium of Rs 5 lakh. In a statement, she said that the victims were injured when some anti-social elements hurled petrol-filled bottles at their van while they were returning after paying homage to Muthuramalinga Thevar.