Chennai: Jedarpalayam in Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu is famous for its jaggery units with more than 100 units in the area. The jaggery units are now employing migrant workers from West Bengal, Odisha, Chathisgarh, Bihar and Jharkhand.
According to sources in Namakkal district labour office, each jaggery unit is employing around 50-75 migrant workers and there was complete harmony between local people and the migrant workers.
However, the relationship turned sore after a 27-year-old girl, Nithya was found murdered on March 11, 2023. The police during investigation found that a 17-year-old migrant worker employed in a jaggery unit was the culprit. The girl, according to police, tried to prevent the sexual advances of the migrant worker. He developed a grudge and killed her.
Following the arrest of the boy in Nithya’s murder case, local people wanted the jaggery unit owners of Jedarpalayam to send back the migrant workers and after this fell on deaf ears, the migrants were attacked.
Several jaggery units’ functioning in sheds were destroyed, some were burnt while others were demolished by local people. Even after the district collector, Shreya P. Singh tried for reconciliation, the issue was not resolved.
The issue has now turned quite out of hand after the local people set on blaze a makeshift residential accommodation of migrant workers at Jedarpalayam on May 14 leading to the death of a 19-year-old worker, Rakesh from Odisha. Police FIR said that unidentified persons sneaked into the makeshift residence late at night, poured kerosene and set it ablaze.
Rakesh succumbed to his burn injuries but three others, Sukuram (27), Yeshwant (18) and Gokul (23) from Chhattisgarh escaped with minor injuries and are out of danger.
Namakkal district collector Shreya P. Singh held discussions with the jaggery unit manufacturers, migrants and local people, and a heavy police contingent was deployed in Jedarpalayam.
However, even after the presence of more than 600 policemen and 10 checkposts, a banana farm belonging to one Murugesan was totally destroyed on Thursday night.
Murugesan is closely related to Muthuswamy who is the owner of a jaggery unit which had employed the deceased migrant worker, Rakesh.
With the destruction of the banana farm, police have commenced investigation and as per the police version, only local people could destroy the banana farm as the entry into the farm by others was not possible, given the large presence of local people in the area.
Local people are of the opinion that more people are involved in the murder of Nitya and charges cannot be fixed on a single 17-year-old youth.
K.M. Kuppuswamy, a local jaggery unit owner, while speaking to IANS said, “Namakkal is an industrial area, with eggs, and jaggery being the main vocation for the people and the death of Nitya has turned into a major issue with local people not adjusting with the migrant workers. We, the owners of the units are suffering and if police do not take stringent action, things will get out of hand.”
He said that even though there are police checkposts and a heavy police contingent, the local people want a CB-CID probe into the murder of Nitya.
The state police chief, C. Sylendrababu, has already ordered the transfer of the case to the CB-CID.
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