Farmers offering toddy, violating the ban, during an agitation in support of their campaign for toddy tapping at K.K.Chavady, near Coimbatore, on Wednesday. Nearly 4,500 farmers were arrested in Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Salem and Krishnagiri on Wednesday for trying to tap toddy in protest against the Government ban on toddy tapping.
Over 1,700 farmers in various rural pockets in Coimbatore and Erode districts were removed and some of them were arrested by the police. Tamil Nadu Toddy Movement, Tamilaga Vivasayigal Sangham, National Agriculturists Awareness Movement and a host of other organisations had called for the agitation. Farmers had been accusing the State Government of permitting sale of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) through the State-run Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) despite IMFL having 42.8 per cent alcohol and toddy having only four per cent.
They had even announced that they would tap toddy and supply to consumers free of cost. Till evening there had been no incidents of toddy tapping or sale in the Nilgiris that had more of plantations and silver oak trees. In Coimbatore District 1,216 farmers were taken into preventive custody while 48 arrested for a specific offence i.e., for having been found in possession of toddy. In Udumalpet over 400 were arrested followed by Perur (289) and Palladam (222). The leaders of the farming community arrested in Coimbatore included Zeebra Palanisamy, Palanisamy, AKV Shanmugam, Venkatesh, Prabhuraja, Sakthivel Gounder, Vazhukkuparai Balu and V.T. Dharmaraj.
In Pollachi, the police seized vehicles that were used for bringing toddy from Kerala for free distribution to consumers. Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Coimbatore Range, P. Sivanandi, said that those arrested for the specific offence of being in possession of toddy numbering 78 have been remanded to judicial custody.
Tirupur: About 500 people were arrested from Tirupur, Dharapuram and Gudimangalam.
Erode: The district police arrested nearly 500 persons in the district. In Dharapuaram, the police said, a group of persons, who came with toddy bottles concealed in a carton box, attempted to sell toddy in the bus stand. The police arrested eight persons and remanded them to custody. They also seized a vehicle that was used to transport toddy. In Erode members of the Nadar Peravai supported by cadres of Akila Indiya Samathuva Makkal Katchi, BJP and MDMK protested in front of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board’s office against the State Government’s policy. The police arrested 242 persons from the venue and others parts of the Erode city. Head of the Tamil Nadu Kal Iyakkam C. Nallasami told The Hindu that the Iyakkam wanted the State Government to remove toddy from the liquor list and include it under food items.
Salem and Namakkal: In Salem and Namakkal, police arrested over 1,500 agitators. Krishnagiri: Over 400 persons, including 18 women, were arrested in Mathur. Members of the nadar associations gathered in large numbers at Uthangarai-Tirupathur-Krishnagiri junction in Mathur with the mud pot for tapping toddy.Members of Nadar Peravai, Nadar Mahajana Sangam, Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam and Coconut Tree Climbing Workers association from Gopinathampalayam, Palacode and Perumbalaur in Dharmapuri District and Vellarigampatti, Ottampatti, Thiruvonampatti, Muthampatti, Kannukanur, Kalipatti, Athipallam, Samalpatti, Eachangadu, Sivampatti, Mathupatti, Irulappatti, Ammankoilpatti, Kottapatti, Kottoor and Pothinayakanapalli in Krishnagiri District took part in the agitation.