Mullaperiyar issue: Scared Ayyappa devotees from TN returning home


Reports of attacks on Tamils and their vehicles inside Kerala over the Mullaiperiyar dam issue caused tension along the border on Tuesday and threatened to disrupt the decades-old bonhomie between the neighbours.

Scores of Ayyappa devotees are stranded in Cumbum unable to continue their pilgrimage to Sabarimala after the reports of violence against Tamils in Kerala and the imposition of section 144 (prohibitory orders) in Idukki district.

Many Ayyappa devotees are returning home to conclude their poojas at local temples.

“Looking at smashed windshields of pilgrims’ buses and hearing horror stories of their being attacked in Kerala, we are scared to continue this pilgrimage. It is distressing because we have prepared for the Sabarimala trip with great devotion,” said a sad ‘Ayyappa saami’ getting ready to return home.

Upset at the attacks on some of their lorries in Idukki, truckers in Tamil Nadu have threatened to suspend transporting essentials to Kerala.

“About 1,000 lorries carry essentials such as rice, milk, vegetables, meat and cement to Kerala. If the attacks continue, we will be forced to halt operations,” said TN Truckers Association chief Nallathambi.

CMs call for calm

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa issued a passionate plea in Chennai asking the 'educated and intelligent people of God’s Own Country' not to fall prey to the machinations of vested interests creating needless fear about a strong dam.

Meanwhile, in Kerala, the all-party meeting on the Mullaperiyar issue turned out to be stormy with the opposition threatening to walk out over the stance taken by the advocate general in the High Court which they said would harm the State’s interests.

However, the opposition leaders finally accepted the request of the Kerala Chief Minister, Oommen Chandy, not to walk out as the state needed to put up a united face to ensure that Tamil Nadu honoured its commitment to attend the secretary-level talks on December 15 and 16.

“We appeal for calm and not take the issue to streets lest we should vitiate the atmosphere for talks. We want to maintain good ties with our neighbor”, said Mr Chandy, briefing the media on the all-party resolution.

The resolution sought steps to reduce the fear and anxiety of the people, reiterated the demand for a new dam and lowering the water level to 120 feet from 136 feet.

Dam absolutely safe: Jaya

Reaching out to 'brothers' in Kerala, Jayalalithaa, in a statement on Tuesday, reiterated that the Mullaiperiyar dam was solid and safe, periodically maintained well.

There were many Tamils in Kerala and even more Malayalis in Tamil Nadu, all living in an admirable display of brotherhood and cooperation, she said.

The people and government of Tamil Nadu would not wish to cause harm to the brethren in Kerala. “We would not claim that the Mullaiperiyar dam is safe unless we were absolutely sure of our facts,” the chief minister said.

TN also removed DIG Intelligence Manikyavel for failing to provide intelligence inputs on the possibility of attacks on Malayalees and their establishments in Cumbam and Theni.

Kerala Oppn accuse govt

The LDF opposition in Kerala pointed out that the revenue minister, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, had acted against Kerala’s interests by pointing out that the Iddukki dam had the capacity to hold the waters of Mullaperiyar dam in case it failed.

The CPI leader, Mr C.Divakaran, told Deccan Chronicle that the opposition had behaved responsibly and not whipped up panic.

“However, Mr K M Mani (finance minister) wants to be the Vaiko of Kerala,” said Mr Divakaran.

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