(Published in Millennium Post, on 5 July 2012)
The DMK leadership courted arrest along with 50,000 of their cadre in a ‘jail bharo’ movement that caused commotion all over Tamil Nadu and paralysed traffic for over four hours in the capital Chennai. Several key DMK members, including Stalin, Kanimozhi, Dayanidhi Maran and T R Baalu, took part.
The demonstration was apparently to protest against what they term Jayalalithaa’s “repressive regime” and her “political vendetta”. Since the AIADMK came to power in Tamil Nadu, at least 15 DMK leaders, including former ministers, have been arrested on land grab charges. Jayalalithaa has asserted that the arrests have been made on genuine complaints, and not vindictiveness.
DMK chief Karunanidhi’s son Stalin and daughter Kanimozhi, one of the main accused in the 2G scam, headed the protest. Leading the cadre in Saidapet area of the city, Kanimozhi, who had taken permission from the court to join the agitation, smiled and waved as she was taken away in a van by police.
Speaking to the media later, she railed against the spate of arrests of DMK leaders, and alleged that this was done without any proof. Kanimozhi said, “The AIADMK has been indulging in vindictive politics from Day One.”
Asked whether the agitation had also provided an opportunity for the DMK for soul searching, as to whether its leaders had overstepped their boundaries when in power, she answered, “This is not a moment for soul searching by the DMK. This is a moment for soul searching by the public and the press.”
Stalin added that the protest was also “To highlight various issues including the hike in price of milk, bus fare and electricity tariff”, which he says have been debilitating for the common man.
Kanimozhi was taken to the YMCA college of physical education, and Stalin and Dayanidhi Maran, who also courted arrest from Kolathur and Ezhilagam areas of the city, were taken to other
venues. Arrested leaders were held in college grounds and marriage halls, as prisons are already overcrowded.
Key roads throughout Chennai were blocked, and traffic was diverted from 9 am to noon, and took most of the rest of the day to reach some semblance of order.
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, who was away in her retreat at the Kodanad estate near Ooty, ordered the release of the arrested politicians in the evening.
The DMK, which has already lost the Assembly elections and several local body elections, didn’t win any brownie points for the traffic chaos it caused with this gimmick. The protest was held in 16 centres in Chennai alone.