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Tension grips Chennaiites; shops, multiplexes shut down

Our Bureau Chennai | Updated on November 25, 2017 Published on September 27, 2014

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Sporadic instances of violence from AIADMK supporters

Shops and commercial establishments shut down, vehicular traffic on the roads was sparse, malls were closed and multiplexes cancelled shows as news of the conviction of Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate asset case spread.

There were sporadic instances of violence as supporters of the ruling party, AIADMK, protested on the streets. A special court in Bangalore sentenced Jayalalithaa to four years in prison and slapped a fine of ₹100 crore. The three other accused: VK Sasikala, an aide of Jayalalithaa, and Sasikala’s relatives, VN Sudhakaran, and J Ilavarasi, who were also convicted, were sentenced to four years imprisonment and a fine of ₹10 crore. They were convicted under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Judge John Michael Cunha delivered the verdict in Bangalore, where the court was set up at Parappana Agrahara prison complex. This culminates an 18-year-long legal battle. The case had been initiated by the Department of Vigilance and Anti Corruption, Tamil Nadu, in 1996 and subsequently shifted to Bangalore in 2003. Jayalalithaa had been accused of amassing over ₹ 66 crore between 1991 and 1996 when she was chief minister.

In Chennai, media persons gathered outside the residence of the former Chief Minister and DMK leader M Karunanidhi to get his reaction on the court’s verdict. DMK party supporters too started converging on the house at Gopalapuram.

Around noon when it became clear that the accused had been convicted, DMK supporters screamed in joy and shouted slogans. Senior party leaders urged the crowd to keep the noise down, the details of the punishment were yet to come in, they said.

Soon tension built up as word spread that a group of AIADMK workers were protesting nearby. Suddenly people ran helter-skelter shouting that a mob was throwing stones; a scuffle broke out in the crowd; a DMK worker injured in the stone throwing was carried away with blood flowing from his forehead.

DMK supporters armed themselves with stones, sticks and steel rods they had grabbed from a nearby construction site. But a group of policemen cordoned of the area and defused the situation.

Suspense continued to build during the day as everybody waited for details of the punishment. At about 5.00 pm when the details of the verdict became public, it was once more an occasion for joy for the DMK.

Media persons continued to wait in the hope of getting a reaction from Karunanidhi. But his aides informed them around 7.00 pm that he would not be reacting immediately. The crowd started dispersing.

What started off as a normal Saturday morning for the general public changed drastically. Streets were deserted, shops were closed and the arterial Anna Salai normally choked with traffic in the evenings wore a deserted look.

Published on September 27, 2014
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