Kalaignar rests beside Guru at Marina
DMK supremo and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi was laid to rest with full state honours near the memorial of his mentor CN Annadurai on Marina beach on Wednesday as lakhs of supporters bid him a tearful adieu after the party won an unsavoury legal battle to secure the resting place for the Dravidian icon at the Chennai landmark.
The country’s high and mighty, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy, and his Kerala, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh counterparts Pinarayi Vijayan, K Chandrasekhar Rao and N Chandrababu Naidu, descended on the city to pay their last respects to Kalaingar.
The demise and final journey of Karunanidhi were as stormy as his life. An unprecedented crowd had sieged Chennai city since Tuesday evening. The crowd swelled by the minute, people pressing against each other in a massive surge, pushing, shoving, stumbling on each other and clashing with police whose personnel wielded batons to control them. Some fainted, scores were injured, prompting MK Stalin to make an appeal to supporters to maintain calm.
After the PM left the venue, the crowd became uncontrollable and hundreds of people trespassed into the barricaded Rajaji Hall premises leading to a stampede in which three people died on the spot, while 30 others were injured.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Madras High Court quashed the Tamil Nadu Government order and allowed the five-time Chief Minister to be laid to rest on the famed Marina beach. The State Government had on Tuesday denied permission to bury the late leader on Marina beach.
The body of Karunanidhi was brought to Rajaji Hall in the City Centre on Wednesday around 5am. The grand steps of Rajaji Hall had been the venue where Tamil Nadu’s tallest leaders were laid on way to their final journey. Around 7.15pm, the coffin was lowered to the chamber near the tomb of Karunanidhi’s mentor Annadurai.
Early in the morning, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswamy, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, Deputy Speaker of the Lok Sabha Thambi Durai accompanied by senior Ministers of the State came to the Rajaji Hall and offered floral tributes to Karunanidhi. They went near MK Stalin and consoled him. The situation looked rather calm and quiet in spite of the tension mounting in the DMK camp over the Government’s denial of permission to bury Karunanidhi at Marina Beach.
Meanwhile, the High Court began its special sitting to consider the plea of the DMK. Around 10.45 am, the Bench of Justices HG Ramesh and SS Sundar ordered that the mortal remains of Karunanidhi could be interred near to Anna Memorial. The court order spread a sense of fulfilment among the DMK supporters and many of them then proceeded to Marina beach.
Police deployed at the Rajaji Hall were outnumbered by the mourners resulting in a baton charge by the law enforcers. “This is the failure of police officials to deploy sufficient force to control the crowd. The unfortunate incident could have been averted had there been more number of policemen guarding the area,” said V Anbazhagan, veteran political commentator.
“This is a terrific crowd. You have to take into account the fact that Karunanidhi has been away from corridors of power for more than five years. Still the crowd which turned out for his final journey is terrific. This is what you call Tamil fervour,” said N Kalayanasundaram, chronicler of Tamil Nadu politics who had covered the final journeys of CN Annadurai, Kamaraj, Rajagopalachari, EV Ramasamy Naicker, MG Ramachandran and GK Moopanar as a journalist.
As the golden sun began to dip slowly into the sea, it shone light on the inscription on the casket in Tamil that read “the one who slogged all his life without rest, rests here”, signifying the end of an era in Tamil Nadu politics.
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