A large group of protestors gathered outside a hospital in Coimbatore on Monday, claiming that a wall that had collapsed amid heavy rain earlier in the day had been built to keep away Dalits, The Hindu reported. The hospital was carrying out autopsies of the 17 people who were killed when the 20-foot-high compound wall fell on three houses in Nadur village.
The protest was carried out by families of those who died, led by organisations such as the Tamil Tigers, Dravidar Tamilar Katchi and Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, outside Mettupalayam Government Hospital.
The house whose wall collapsed belongs to a textile trader identified as Sivasubramaniam. “The complaint is about the construction in itself being illegal, and not just the poor quality of construction,” said Tamil Puligal Katchi President Nagai Tiruvalluvan. He led a protest to block the arterial Ooty Road.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi MP Ravikumar submitted a memorandum about the incident to Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot. He claimed that the police beat up protestors outside the hospital. The police pushed down one protestor and almost stamped on him, reported The News Minute. The police arrested at least 25 protestors.
Referring to the compensation announced by the government for those killed, Tiruvalluvan told The Hindu: “Is the value of the life of each of the deceased only Rs 4 lakh? Is it because they are Dalits?”
He sought action against the property owner under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
The relatives of those who died have accused the district administration of not heeding their pleas to demolish the wall. They also refused to receive the bodies after autopsy, and demanded a compensation of Rs 25 lakh, government job for the family members of the deceased, and the immediate arrest of Sivasubramaniam.
“It was found that the collapse of the compound wall is the reason for the accident,” The New Indian Express quoted Collector K Rajamani as saying. “An order has been given to demolish the structure. A review will be carried to find similar types of walls to prevent further accidents.”