Over 650 persons were arrested by the Coimbatore City and District Police in response to the unrest that followed after the murder of Hindu Munnani leader Sasikumar in Thudiyalur on Friday. The police said that the number of those arrested could go up.
C Sasikumar was hacked to death by four members of a motorcycle-borne gang near the GN Mills bus stop within Thudiyalur police station limits on Thursday. He died while being rushed to the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital on Thursday night.
As communal tension flared, sporadic violence in the form of arson and stone pelting, targeting establishments and premises of the Muslim community, that erupted after Sasikumar's funeral brought the city of Coimbatore to a standstill on Friday. The neighbouring Tirupur district also witnessed spontaneous violence. Fearing large scale violence, most shopping establishments, cinema halls, fuel stations, schools and colleges were shut down.
However, signs of normalcy was evident on Saturday itself after over 2,000 policemen from Ariyalur, Permbalur, Tiruchi, Villupuram, Erode, Ramanathapuram and a few other districts were posted to various pockets of the city to oversee and monitor the law and order situation. Armed police protection has been given to the BJP and Hindu Munnani leaders.
On Sunday, traders were forced to close shops due to the threat of violence and rumour mongering on social media. Police Commissioner A Amalraj issued warned of strict action to deter those endangering peace by spreading false information.
Out of the 650 people arrested till Sunday morning, 542 persons, including 413 persons allegedly involved in resorting to road blockades and other forms of demonstrations that would kindle unrest, were released on bail. The remaining 129, however, are still remanded in custody for their alleged involvement in and planning of acts of violence.
Over allegations that aged persons who were not involved in the riot like situation were also arrested, police said that most of the arrested persons were youth.
"We identified them based on CCTV footage and photographs. Those arrested as a preventive measure were involved in such incidents in the past," an officer was quoted saying to the Hindu. The police added they are still searching for more rioters who are reportedly on the run.
Police sources said that they were yet to make a breakthrough in the murder of Sasikumar.