The government in Tamil Nadu has announced the construction of a memorial in Villupuram to people killed in police firing and clashes in 1987, during a movement demanding reservation for the Vanniyar community.
- Vanniyar are one of the largest and most consolidated backward communities in the state.
- They had raised massive protests in the mid-1980s demanding 20% reservation in the state, and 2% in central services.
- Their movement was backed by the Justice Party as well as the Self-Respect Movement.
- The agitation began in 1986 with activists sending hundreds of letters and telegrams to then Chief Minister M G Ramachandran seeking an audience.
- As there was no response from MGR and the then Rajiv Gandhi government, agitators started demonstrations in community strongholds, then went on to blockading rail and road traffic.
- The Vanniyars declared an agitation from September 17 to 23, 1987, which turned violent.
- At least 21 protesters were killed, mostly in police firing, and also in clashes with members of Scheduled Caste communities.
- While this shook the state establishment, there was no immediate solution.
- After 1989, the OBC quota was split into two: Backward Castes and Most Backward Castes.
- Vanniyars were categorized among the MBCs with 107 other communities, with 20% reservation.
- Three decades later,10.5% reservation was granted for Vanniyars within the 20% MBC quota.