A popular lyric in a yesteryear film starring former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M G Ramachandran (MGR) goes thus: “Unless a thief reforms, theft cannot be eliminated.”
In real life, rarely does a thief have a change of heart. However, scores of villagers in north Tamil Nadu, have reformed and returned properties which they looted, circumstantially. They were, of course, not thieves in the strict definition of the term.
On Sunday, violence and arson had broken out at a private residential school in Kallakurichi, days after a class XII girl was found dead in the hostel.
While the police were outnumbered, villagers had made away with benches, desks, air-conditioners, and other properties from the school. They were seen carrying the looted properties on their heads and two-wheelers right under the nose of the police personnel.
The State government constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) under the Crime Branch-CID to probe the violence. Following this, on Wednesday, the authorities sent persons to surrounding villages urging local residents to return the looted properties to avoid police action. Since Thursday night, villagers quietly started placing looted materials on the premises of a temple in the Kaniyamanoor village.
“We found desks, benches, LPG cylinders, water purifiers and kitchen appliances looted from the school at the temple premises. Besides, one resident returned 14 pairs of gold earrings, which he said, he had found from the school premises,” a police officer said on Friday.