Union ministers Baalu and Maran, mayor Stalin, 11 others also put behind bars

Barely 45 days into her second stint as Tamil Nadu chief minister, Jayalalitha embarked on her turn of political vendetta, with the state police, in a dramatic post-midnight operation, arresting the former chief minister M Karunanidhi.

Apart from Mr Karunanidhi, those arrested include Union ministers Murasoli Maran, TR Baalu, former state chief secretary KM Nambair, and 11 others. All of them have been arrested on charges of corruption involving the Rs 12-crore ‘flyover scam’.

With DMK-controlled Sun TV beaming images of the police dragging and roughing up Mr Karunanidhi at his residence, the police action has evoked strong condemnation across the political spectrum, both at the state and the national level. The DMK has already called for imposition of President’s Rule in the state.

Later in the day, Chennai mayor and Mr Karunanidhi’s son, MK Stalin, surrendered before the principal sessions judge, who remanded him to custody until July 10.

Union environment minister TR Baalu was arrested “for obstructing a public servant from discharging his duties” and was sent to the Central Prison here and was remanded to judicial custody till July 13.

Union commerce & industry minister and DMK chief’s nephew Murasoli Maran was arrested in the evening from the Apollo Hospital where he was admitted after sustaining injuries during the scuffle with the police that followed soon after the arrest of Mr Karunanidhi.

In fact, both Mr Maran and Mr Baalu, who wanted to know the reasons for the arrest from the police, were roughed up by the cops. However, the police claimed that their action at Mr Karunanidhi’s residence was a follow-up to the protests by these Union ministers.

After his arrest, Mr Karunanidhi was produced before the principal session judge Ashok Kumar and remanded to judicial custody till July 10.

Mr Karunanidhi, however, successfully resisted the police move to shift him to the Vellore prision and he is currently lodged in the Central Prison in Chennai.

While the judge directed that Mr Karunanidhi should be medically examined by a panel of doctors, including his personal physician Dr V Gopal, the DMK chief was taken straight to the Central Prison, where he squatted in protest for about half-an-hour for not being taken to hospital.

Mr MK Stalin, the prime accused in the case, was initially lodged in the Vellore prison, and later moved to the Madurai Central Jail.

Thousands of DMK workers, including MLAs and MPs and former ministers, were arrested and put behind bars throughout the state.

The time and manner of the arrest of the 77-year-old Karunanidhi, without a warrant, was termed as “most dastardly and inhumane” by various political parties and social leaders. Even the allies of the AIADMK have joined the chorus of protest.

Meanwhile, after failing to get Ms Jayalalitha on telephone, Prime Minister AB Vajpayee, who took a serious view of the police behaviour, talked to state chief secretary P Shankar and sought a detailed report on the entire drama which unfolded in the thick of the night.

Meanwhile, the NDA in Tamil Nadu, which has called for the imposition of President’s rule in the state, has declared a state-wide bandh on Monday demanding immediate release of Mr Karunanidhi, and withdrawal of cases against him and others arrested.

The arrest of Mr Karunanidhi is being viewed by political observers as a retalitation to Ms J Jayalalitha’s arrest during the DMK rule in 1996.

Chennai wore a deserted look throughout the day and only a limited number of buses were plying on the city roads, that too with a few passengers. Police chased away stone-pelting crowds in many places in the state. There were also reports of burning of effigies in different parts of the state of Ms Jayalalitha.

Over 50 vehicles were damaged in sporadic violence and two buses were partially burnt at Krishnagiri in Dharmapuri district.

Twenty mediamen, who were covering Mr Karunanidhi’s arrest were detained by police for over four hours, and the police gave no reasons for their retention as well.

Courtesy : The Financial Express
Political Bureau - July 1, 2001.
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