Chennai, April 21: Four Brahmins, including an 80-year-old and a 12-year-old, were attacked here by suspected activists of a fringe group who snapped their holy threads, the first such assaults in over two decades.
Six activists of Dravida Viduthalai Kazhagam - a fringe group whose members claim to be strident followers of Periyar's rationalism - have been held over the attacks that occurred in Brahmin-dominated neighbourhoods of Chennai over the past two days.
The BJP and Brahmin associations have described the incidents as a sign of frustration over a mangalsutra-removal event that the Periyar-founded Dravidar Kazhagam had announced last week but which was blocked by Madras High Court.
Officers probing the four assaults said they were trying to determine if the Dravida Viduthalai Kazhagam had links to the Dravidar Kazhagam.
A bike gang pounced on 80-year-old priest Viswanatha Gurukkal and thrashed him at Mylapore last night. The police said the group snapped his holy thread and shouted " Periyar Vaazhga (long live Periyar)".
Later, the same group attacked another elderly Brahmin and ripped off his holy thread in T. Nagar, a few kilometres away, the police said.
A third elderly man and a 12-year old boy were attacked at Triplicane today while on way to a temple.
The Tamil Nadu Brahmin Association sought action. "We seek protection from such attacks and hope the police will take action," said M.S. Padma Gopal, who heads the association's Chennai unit. Office-bearers of the association met the city police chief.
BJP national secretary H. Raja described the assaults as "barbaric acts". He demanded a ban on the Dravidar Kazhagam and arrest of its leader K. Veeramani for "spreading unlawfulness and violence against a particular community."
Veeramani had organised an April 14 event in which volunteers of his outfit removed their wives' mangalsutras, dubbing them "symbols of women's slavery". The programme was advanced to the early hours to beat the high court's ruling later that day. The court eventually stayed the programme, preventing a larger gathering and possible trouble.
#Two days later, Veeramani was embarrassed when pictures of him solemnising a rationalist wedding a few years ago by handing over a mangalsutra to the groom were circulated in the social media.
Attacks on Brahmins were frequent when the DMK first came to power in 1967 and the anti-Brahmin campaign was at its peak with Periyar persuading the government to pass a law recognising rationalist weddings solemnised without priests, mantras or and mangalsutras.
This is probably the first time that such attacks are happening when the AIADMK, led by Jayalalithaa, a Brahmin, is in power.