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Tamil Nadu

'Nakkheeran' Gopal arrested after Governor's complaint, set free

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The Tamil Nadu Police suffered en embarrassment as a court freed senior Tamil journalist "Nakkheeran" Gopal, hours after he was arrested on charges of allegedly defaming Governor Banwarilal Purohit.
 
Gopal, 59, was taken into custody at Chennai airport while waiting to fly to Pune on a complaint from Raj Bhavan. 
 
The police slapped him with Section 124 of the Indian Penal Code. which refers to assault on President or Governor to restrain them from exercising their lawful power.
 
As his arrest drew widespread condemnation in the state, Chief Metropolitant Magistrate Gopinath rejected a police request for remand of Gopal.
 
The offending articles published in "Nakkheeran" in May linked the Governor to Nirmala Devi, an Assistant Professor who was arrested for allegedly luring college girls to provide sexual favours to officials of Madurai Kamaraj University.
 
After his arrest at the airport, Gopal was taken to Chintadripet police station and from there to a hospital for medical check-up before being taken to a court.
 
Following the release of Gopal, MDMK leader Vaiko, who had been arrested as he protested outside the police station where Gopal was taken to, was also freed.
 
Gopal's lawyer V. T. Perumal argued that Section 124 cannot be applied as the police could not prove that the Governor and Gopal had ever met and so there could not have been any "assault" -- as defined in the Penal Code.
 
Interestingly, the court heard senior journalist N. Ram of The Hindu Group who submitted that there was no relation to Secton 124 and the case in question.
 
Ram told the judge that if such an arrest was allowed, it would set a dangerous precedent and police all over India would resort to this.
 
And no journalist had been arrested under this section, Ram said.
 
A grateful Gopal later thanked all political leaders who came out in his support. "I bow to the court which has stood for media freedom," he told reporters.
 
The "Nakkheeran" editor said if the Governor had any complaint about the story his magazine had published, he could have issued a rebuttal or taken recourse to other remedies.
 
Vaiko demanded to know why BJP leader H. Raja was not arrested for his derogatory remarks about the judiciary and police.
 
The MDMK leader said Gopal's arrest was an attempt by the Bharatiya Janata Party to suppress media freedom.
 
DMK President M.K. Stalin accused the Modi government and the Tamil Nadu Governor of enforcing an undeclared Emergency in the state.
 
Stalin earlier said that the state government was subservient to the central government and demanded the withdrawal of all cases filed against Gopal.
 
PMK founder S. Ramadoss said if the articles were defamatory, then defamation cases could be filed. Gopal's arrest was also denounced by actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan.
 
Gopal was once the emissary of the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to negotiate with sandalwood smuggler Veerappan after the latter abducted Kannda star Rajkumar. Like Veerappan, Gopal's handlebar moustache became his trademark.
 
Gopal has also faced several defamation cases filed by the AIADMK government led by the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa.
 
IANS
 

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IMD warns of heavy rainfall over Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry over next five days

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The India Meteorological Department (IMD) today forecast heavy rainfall at isolated places over Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over the next five days, with extremely heavy falls likely at some places on Sunday in the two States and Union Territory.
 
The IMD has issued an orange alert for these States for today, tomorrow and Saturday as well as for Monday, which means there is likely to be rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places.
 
For Sunday, October 7, the IMD has issued a red alert, which means there is likely to be rainfall at most places in these States with heavy to very heavy rain and extremely heavy falls at isolated places.
 
The Department has also issued an orange alert for tomorrow and a red alert for Saturday for Lakshadweep Islands. Rainfall is also likely at most places over Lakshadweep Islands today and on October 7 and 8, a press release from IMD said.
 
An orange alert means people and authorities in the area must be prepared, and a red alert means they have to take action.
 
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The IMD has also warned of an intense low pressure system over south-east Arabian Sea and adjoining Lakshadweep and Maldives areas, extending upto middle tropospheric level in the morning of today.
 
Under its influence, a low pressure area is very likely to form over southeast Arabian Sea by tomorrow. It is very likely to concentrate into a depression and move northwestwards during the subsequent 36 hours. It is also very likely to intensify further into a cyclonic storm thereafter and move towards Oman coast.
 
The release said the wind speed would gradually increase over southeast and central Arabian Sea and Lakshadweep area, becoming squally wind with speed reaching 40-50 kmph, gusting to 60 kmph, from October 6 onwards. It will gradually increase further over this region.
 
The release said the sea condition would become rough to very rough from October 6.
 
Fishermen are advised not to venture into deep sea areas of southeast and central Arabian Sea from October 6 and those out at deep sea have been advised to return to coast before October 6.
 
The weather warning has come at a time when people in the state are yet to recover from the devastating floods -- the worst in a century -- that ravaged most parts of the state in August and claimed more than 480 lives.
 
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Indian Navy's Chetak helicopter makes hard landing at INS Rajali

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A Chetak helicopter of the Indian Navy made a hard landing during a routine training sortie of "Dry Winching" at INS Rajali at Arakkonam, near here, in Tamil Nadu this morning.
 
The incident occurred at about 0904 hours and involved a helicopter with frame number 442, an official press release said.
 
"The station rescue team reached the site within minutes of the incident. The crew is safe and no other casualty has been reported.
 
"The incident is being investigated to ascertain the cause of the hard landing," the release added.
 
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Deterrent action will continue at Pakistan border: Sitharaman

 
Actions against Pakistan at border to continue: Sitharaman
 
 
As the government marks the second anniversary of the surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Saturday said that deterrent action against Pakistan "will continue at the border" even as Home Minister Rajnath Singh has claimed that BSF had taken strong action against Pakistani forces at the border "two-three days ago" to avenge the killing of a BSF jawan.
 
"There are intrusions on the border and we are also eliminating a lot of them at the border itself, not allowing them to come in. I believe an action of this kind will deter Pakistan from training and sending in terrorists," she told the media here.
 
"Our action will continue at the border irrespective of whether they have learnt a lesson or not," she added.
 
On Friday, Rajnath Singh, while speaking at a public function in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar, had said that "something big" had happened at the border recently to avenge the death of the Border Security Force (BSF) Head Constable Narender Singh who was killed by the Pakistani forces on September 18 in Ramgarh sector along the International Border.
 
"Something has happened and will also happen in future. I had told my BSF jawans that Pakistan is a neighbour and so you shall not fire the first bullet. But if a bullet comes from their side, then you shall not count how many bullets you fire," Rajnath Singh said.
 
BSF Director General K.K. Sharma, while refusing to giving details of what punitive action the BSF took, said that the force took action at the Line of Control (LoC) to avenge the killing.
 
"If something happens on the IB (International Border), it is not necessary that we immediately take action at the IB itself. We have taken action on the LoC side to avenge the death of our brave soldier.
 
India is observing the second anniversary of the cross-LoC military strikes, commonly called the "surgical strikes", as ‘Parakram Parv', or the celebration of valour.
 
IANS
 

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DMK chief Stalin undergoes minor surgery

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DMK President M. K. Stalin has undergone a minor surgery for removal of cyst from his right thigh, said Apollo Hospitals.
 
In a statement issued here on Thursday the hospital said Stalin was admitted to the hospital late on Wednesday. "He underwent a minor surgical procedure for the removal of a cyst from his right thigh," it said.
 
Stalin would be discharged Thursday later, it added.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 

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ADB to provide $ 500 m for urban water and sanitation services in Tamil Nadu

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The Board of Directors of the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved financing of up to $500 million for a multitranche financing facility (MFF) that will develop climate-resilient water supply, sewerage, and drainage infrastructure in at least 10 cities in Tamil Nadu.
 
“With almost half of the state population living in cities, Tamil Nadu is the most urbanized of India’s large states,” said ADB Senior Urban Development Specialist Ron Slangen. 
 
“Managing this rapid urbanization is essential for sustaining its economic growth and alleviating poverty. The state suffers from recurring droughts and erratic monsoons linked to climate change resulting in severe water scarcity and urban flooding. ADB’s support will help address these complex urban challenges through innovative and climate-resilient investment and deeper institutional support," he said.
 
An ADB press release said that while Tamil Nadu is a more advanced state in India accounting for the second largest contribution to the country's economy, the rapid influx of people to urban areas is putting severe pressure on infrastructure services and threatening the livability and competitiveness of cities. 
 
"Urban service levels remain low, with less than half of households served by piped water, and nearly a third of supplied water lost through aging distribution networks resulting in an intermittent supply of 2 hours per day. Only 42% of households are covered by a sewerage network, with 43% of sewage disposed directly into waterways untreated.
 
"The ADB program will provide direct assistance in these areas as part of its support to the state’s Vision Tamil Nadu 2023 to provide universal access to water and sanitation and to develop world-class cities in high-performing industrial corridors," it said.
 
The release said ADB’s financing will be provided in three tranches between now and March 2022.
 
"It will develop climate-resilient sewerage collection and treatment and drainage systems in 10 cities, and install the country’s first solar-powered sewage treatment plant on a pilot basis. The program will introduce smart water management systems to reduce non-revenue water and strengthen operational efficiency. Around 4 million people will benefit from piped water and sewerage connections and improved drainage. Beyond physical investments, the program will boost institutional capacity, public awareness, and urban governance as part of a comprehensive approach for developing livable cities," the release said.
 
The first tranche of the program amounting to $169 million will target the cities of Chennai, Coimbatore, Rajapalayam, Tiruchirappalli, Tirunelveli, and Vellore. 
 
A $2 million grant from the Asian Clean Energy Fund, established by the Government of Japan, will fund the solar energy pilot project. The Government of India, Government of Tamil Nadu, Chennai Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, and various urban local bodies will provide $766.4 million toward the total program cost. An ADB technical assistance grant of $1 million will accompany the program to support capacity building. The MFF availability period is up to June 30, 2026.
 
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Actor-turned-MLA Karunas arrested in Chennai

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Actor-turned-MLA Karunas was arrested here on Sunday for his alleged derogatory remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K. Palaniswami and a city police official.
 
Karunas, the leader of the Mukkulathor Puli Padai party, made the alleged remarks on September 16 at a public meeting here. 
 
Pointing out the city police official, Karunas had said that the young official should be counseled by his seniors and also challenged him for a duel.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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TN government decides to recommend release of Gandhi killers

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The Tamil Nadu government on Sunday decided to recommend to Governor Banwarilal Purohit the release of seven convicts serving life term for the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar said.
 
The decision was taken at a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister K. Palaniswami.
 
Jayakumar told reporters that the decision was taken after the Supreme Court asked Purohit to consider the mercy petition of A. G. Perarivalan, serving life term for the 1991 assassination of Gandhi, for release under Article 161 of the Constitution.
 
Jayakumar said though the apex court had given its order in the petition filed by Perarivalan, the state government had decided to recommend to the Governor his release as well as six other convicts as they had also sent their mercy petitions.
 
The other six are V. Sriharan alias Murugan, T. Suthendraraja alias Santhan, Jayakumar, Robert Payas, Ravichandran and Nalini Sriharan, wife of Sriharan alias Murugan. They include both Indians and Sri Lankans.
 
All seven have been in prison since 1991, the year a woman Tamil Tiger suicide bomber blew up Rajiv Gandhi at an election rally near Chennai.
 
Jayakumar said the Supreme Court was the highest court and the cabinet decision was taken based on the basis of its decision.
 
He said the Governor had to agree with the cabinet decision.
 
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) was blamed for the assassination of Gandhi. The Sri Lankan military crushed the Tamil Tigers in 2009.
 
IANS
 

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Gutka scam: Chennai ex-police commissioner S. George pleads innocence

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Former Chennai Police Commissioner S. George on Friday said he has not received any money from any gutka manufacturer.
 
The former city police chief told reporters here that at the time when the scam surfaced, it was blown up to prevent him and T. K. Rajendran from becoming the Director General of Police (DGP).
 
However, Rajendran was appointed as the Tamil Nadu DGP.
 
George said he has not received any money from any gutka (a tobacco product banned in Tamil Nadu) manufacturer.
 
Queried about an entry in the diary of the gutka manufacturer A. V.  Madhava Rao listing out the payment of "Rs 15 lakh for Christmas to a former Commissioner of Police", George said someone might have collected the money from the gutka manufacturer falsely saying that it is for him (George).
 
"Entries might have been made in the diary based on someone's statement. Why should an ex-commissioner be paid any money," he asked.
 
He also said the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is carrying out a probe based on entries made by a gutka manufacturer.
 
On September 5, the CBI raided the houses of George, DGP Rajendran, Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabaskar, gutka manufacturer Rao and several state and central government officials in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh.
 
George said his name is not mentioned in the First Information Report (FIR) filed by the CBI.
 
According to him, there are several layers of hierarchy between the Commissioner of Police and down below. There are about 300 police stations in Chennai. 
 
"Is it possible for a scam to go on just with the blessing of the Commissioner of Police," he asked. There are different levels in the police hierarchy and different periods, he added.
 
He said Deputy Commissioner Jayakumar did not report the illegal gutka operations to his superiors despite knowing and it happening under his jurisdiction.
 
According to George, he held a preliminary inquiry about the gutka scam and had written a letter to the state government to conduct a probe citing the rumours of police officials being involved in the scam.
 
George said as the allegations were against the Commissioner of Police, it was not possible for him to order a probe but there were several agencies that could have been entrusted with the task.
 
He said he did not know why the government did not act on that report.
 
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As to the seizures by CBI after raiding his home, the former commissioner said, the CBI took only the sale deed of his plot bought from the state housing board, certain lease documents and insurance policies.
 
On Thursday, the CBI arrested five persons, including three promoters of gutka manufacturing company Jayam Industries -- Rao, Uma Shankar Gupta and Srinivas Rao; Food Safety Department official Senthil Murugan and Central Excise Superintendent N. K.Pandyan.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer Madhava Rao in Tamil Nadu in 2016 for evading about Rs 250 crore tax.
 
A diary was seized from Rao's residence which listed alleged bribes paid to various officials to the tune of about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
The IT Department had sent a report to the Tamil Nadu government about the alleged payoffs to various officials.
 
The state government claimed it did not receive any report from the IT Department. But a copy of the letter sent to the state government by the IT Department was seized from the room occupied by V. K. Sasikala in the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's residence in November 2017.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Despite objections from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two-year extension in 2018 by the AIADMK government.
 
George avoided some media questions and ended the press meet abruptly with his assistants asking him to conclude the meet.
 
IANS

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Consider mercy plea of Rajiv Gandhi's killer, SC tells TN Governor

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The Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Tamil Nadu Governor to consider the mercy petition of A.G. Perarivalan, who is serving a life term in the 1991 Rajiv Gandhi assassination case.
 
Perarivalan's counsel told a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Naveen Sinha and Justice K.M. Joseph that a decision was yet to be taken on his mercy petition pending for over two years. 
 
He submitted the plea to the Governor on December 30, 2015, saying he had undergone more than 24 years of solitary/single confinement.
 
Perarivalan, among the seven convicts in the case, had sought remission/pardon from the Governor under Article 161 of the Constitution.
 
After the court asked the Centre to take a call on Tamil Nadu's proposal to release the convicts, the central government said on August 10 in its report submitted in the court that it did not agree, holding that setting them free will set a "dangerous precedent".
 
"Releasing the killers of a former Prime Minister will set a very dangerous precedent. The case has been decided by various forums of judiciary and executive and the prisoners do not deserve to be set free," the Centre contended.
 
Releasing them will lead to "international ramifications" by other such criminals in future, it added.
 
The now-vanquished Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka was blamed for the Congress leader's assassination by a suicide bomber at an election rally near Chennai on May 21, 1991.
 
IANS
 

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CBI raids TN Minister, DGP in connection with gutka scam

CBI Headquarters in New Delhi (File photo: IANS)
CBI Headquarters in New Delhi (File photo: IANS)
CBI officials from New Delhi on Wednesday searched the residences of several persons including Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabasker and Director General of Police (DGP) T. K. Rajendran in connection with a multi-crore gutka scam.
 
"Separate CBI teams conducted simultaneous raids at 40 locations in Tamil Nadu early in the morning," Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) spokesperson Abhishek Dayal told IANS in New Delhi.
 
This is the first time a serving DGP's residence in Tamil Nadu has been raided by the CBI.
 
Included in the search list are former Tamil Nadu Minister B. V. Ramanaa and retired Chennai Police Commissioner S. George.
 
The CBI action prompted calls from M. K. Stalin, leader of the main opposition DMK, to Governor Banwarilal Purohit to sack Vijayabaskar and Rajendran if they do not resign on their own.
 
PMK founder S. Ramadoss also demanded the removal of Vijayabaskar and all other raided officials from their posts.
 
Ramadoss said Vijayabaskar's residence and the other places were also raided by the Income Tax department.
 
The CBI in May-end had registered a case in the scam against unknown officials of Central Excise, Tamil Nadu government, Food Safety Department, public servants and private persons on charges of criminal conspiracy and for corruption following a direction of the Madras High Court on April 26. 
 
The agency has been investigating all aspects of the offence of illegal manufacture, import, supply, distribution and sale of gutka and other forms of chewable tobacco which are banned in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry.
 
In April 2018, the Madras High Court ordered the CBI to probe the multi-crore scam on a petition filed by DMK legislator J. Anbazhagan.
 
"The probe seems to be proceeding on the right track under the CBI. Whether a case will be filed against the scamsters or not will have to be seen," Anbazhagan told IANS. "If no case is filed, then we may have to approach the Madras High Court again."
 
Several political parties had demanded a CBI probe into the issue but the AIADMK government did not agree.
 
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In June 2018, the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case against unnamed government officials in Tamil Nadu based on a first information report (FIR) registered by the CBI in May.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer Madhava Rao in Tamil Nadu in 2016 for evading about Rs 250 crore tax.
 
A diary was seized from Rao's residence which listed alleged bribes paid to various officials amounting to about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
Stalin alleged that the AIADMK government had tried various measures to stall investigation into the scam.
 
The IT department had sent a report to the Tamil Nadu government about the alleged payoffs to various persons. 
 
The state government claimed it did not receive any report from the IT department. But a copy of the letter sent to the state government by the IT department was seized from the room occupied by V.K. Sasikala in the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalithaa's residence in November 2017.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Despite objections from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two-year extension in 2018 by the AIADMK government.
 
IANS
 

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Thousands take part in Alagiri rally in Chennai

 
In show of strength, Alagiri leads rally to Karunanidhi memorial
 
 
Thousands took part on Wednesday in a rally organised by expelled DMK leader M.K. Alagiri here but the DMK gave no indication that it was ready to take him back into its fold.
 
Speaking to reporters after offering tributes at M.K. Karunanidhi's memorial at the Marina beach, Alagiri said the aim of the rally was to pay homage to his late father and former Chief Minister.
 
Queried about the dismissal of a DMK member by the party for receiving him at the airport on Tuesday, Alagiri wondered whether the party would dismiss "the 1.5 lakh members who participated in the peace rally" on Wednesday.
 
Several thousands of Alagiri supporters and his family members joined the rally.
 
Alagiri was dismissed from the DMK by Karunanidhi in 2014 for anti-party activities. He was opposed to his younger brother M.K. Stalin becoming the DMK leader.
 
However, after the death of Karunanidhi last month, Alagiri expressed his desire to rejoin the DMK and even said that he would accept Stalin as his leader post admission.
 
But the DMK party has not shown any sign that it will take back Alagiri.
 
On August 27, Alagiri warned in Madurai that if the DMK leadership did not take him back, then its leadership would have to face "consequences". 
 
IANS
 

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Gutka scam: CBI raids residences of TN Minister, DGP

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday raided several places in Tamil Nadu, including the residences of Health and Family Welfare Minister C. Vijayabaskar and Director General of Police (DGP) T.K. Rajendran in connection with a gutka scam, said a CBI official.
 
In April, the Madras High Court ordered CBI to probe the multi-crore gutka scam in which Minister Vijayabaskar, DGP Rajendran and several other top police and other state government officials were alleged to be involved.
 
The court ordered the CBI probe on a petition filed by DMK legislator J. Anbazhagan.
 
The case is related to an Income Tax Department raid in the offices, residences and godowns of a gutka manufacturer in Tamil Nadu in 2016.
 
A diary was then seized which listed alleged bribe payments made to various officials amounting to about Rs 39.31 crore.
 
The Tamil Nadu government has banned the manufacture and storage of gutka -- a tobacco product. However, the product was reportedly available in the market with the alleged connivance of police officers and others.
 
Several political parties had demanded the CBI probe into the scam but the AIADMK government did not agree.
 
In June, the Enforcement Directorate registered a money laundering case under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act against unnamed government officials in Tamil Nadu's gutka scam based on the first information report (FIR) registered by the CBI in May.
 
Despite the opposition from the opposition parties, Rajendran was given a two year extension in 2018.
 
IANS
 

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Finance Commission to visit Tamil Nadu from September 5

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The 15th Finance Commission will visit Tamil Nadu from September 5-8, it was announced today.
 
The Commission led by Chairman N K Singh along with Members Dr Anoop Singh, Dr Ashok Lahiri, Dr Ramesh Chand and Secretary Arvind Mehta will have meetings with the Chief Minister, Ministers and other officials of the state in Chennai.
 
Detailed presentations will be made on the finances of the State Government. Ahead of its meeting with the Chief Minister on September 6, the Commission will meet the economists of the region to understand the macroeconomic issues and some peculiar issues related to southern part of the country in the light of the development trajectory of the region. Tamil Nadu will be the second state in Southern India after Kerala to be visited by the Commission.
 
There will be meetings with the leaders of various political parties, representatives of Trade and Industry, Urban Local Bodies and Panchayati Raj Institutions to understand the issues concerning the state. Commission will also undertake field visits in Madurai and pay a visit to the Dr APJ Abdul Kalam memorial in Rameshwaram. Ahead of the visit, the Commission received a briefing on various aspects of its finances and issues related to socio-economic spheres from Accountant General of Tamil Nadu.
 
"While Tamil Nadu has made great strides in its industrial sector development and emerged as a manufacturing hub, inter district disparity in PCI, GST Collections, declining growth of own tax revenue and capital expenditure remain concern," an official press release said.
 
"The State’s contribution to the country’s economic growth is quite impressive and it has shown a great growth potential. The structure of GSDP in Tamil Nadu has been shifting away from agriculture towards industry and services. From 2012-13 to 2016-17, the average share of agriculture and allied sector was 10.9%, industry was 35% and that of services was 54.6%.
 
"State's GDP after a decline in 2015-16 has picked up again, however declining growth rate of own tax revenue in recent years particularly from 2013-14 onwards is a concern. Since 2013-14 due to a combination of factors like slow revenue growth, spurt in exceptional expenditures like UDAY, pay commission award and drastic reduction in central devolution, the State is witnessing revenue deficits.
 
"Its capital expenditure is also low. As per RBI study of state budgets, Tamil Nadu is among the highest borrowing states. Its fiscal deficit stood above 4 % and debt to GDP ratio stands at 22.31% in 2016-17.  Commission will also look into the issues relates to GST collections. Power sector is not fully unbundled in the state. Commission will try to understand the issues related to the implementation of UDAY scheme.
 
"Though Tamil Nadu has done well in economic uplift of the people, Inter district disparity in per capita income (PCI) is evident. 18 out of 32 districts are having lower PCI than the state average PCI (Rs 1,54,375 in 2015-16). Per capita income of the top ranked district is about 2.8 times larger than that of the poorest district.
 
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"While poverty in Tamil Nadu is lower than many states of the country, parts of the state are having high rate of poverty. State intervention is resulting in fast decline in poverty ratios, nearly all of this reduction in the number of families below poverty line comes from rural areas.
 
"Tamil Nadu is one of most urbanised states which throws up the challenges related to urbanization, migration, slums and urban poverty. State has achieved replacement level of population growth therefore increasing population of elderly is a concern. This unique combination of demography and urbanization needs a specific strategy in public expenditure and investment in critical areas in the coming decade if it is to attain its growth potential and provide a model for the rest of India.
 
"The State was doing well on many social parameters like Sex Ratio, institutional delivery, IMR, MMR etc. However, NFHS -4 shows a higher percentage of Anaemia among women and children than All India percentage. In education sector, state is depicting weak learning outcomes as per ASER 2016-17 report, despite having high literacy rates. State has done well in the democratic decentralization to the third tier. 5th State Finance Commission recommendations (2016) are under implementation.
 
"Tamil Nadu has also submitted a detailed memorandum to the Commission for consideration. Commission expects to gain an in-depth understanding of the peculiar issue related to the economic growth and development in Tamil Nadu during its interactions and meetings with the state government," the release added.
 
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Woman held for shouting slogans against Centre in aircraft

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A young woman who shouted slogans against the "fascist" Modi government in an aircraft in the presence of Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan was on Monday arrested when the plane landed here.
 
Sophia (25), who is said to be pursuing research in Canada, was returning home and was seated behind Soundararajan's third row seat. Suddenly she got up and shouted slogans against the BJP and the "fascist" government at the Centre, creating a flutter in the aircraft.
 
On landing here, the BJP leader got into a verbal duel with the student and lodged a complaint with the police who arrested her.
 
Soundararajan later told the media that the girl student rose in a "menacing" manner against her and felt there was a threat to her life in the manner in which she protested. 
 
"She is not an ordinary person," the BJP leader said, adding she suspected her "background" and that there must be some "organisation" behind her protest which should be probed. 
 
Leaders of various political parties including the CPI-M, CPI and PMK criticized the police "high handedness" and demanded the woman's immediate release. 
 
They also said Soundararajan should have handled the issue in a mature manner without resorting to gimmicks. The incident only showed that young people in the country were angry with the Central government, they said. 
 
IANS
 

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Stalin elected as new DMK president, says BJP should be taught a lesson

M K Stalin
M K Stalin
Moments after his unanimous election as DMK President, M. K. Stalin on Tuesday dispelled notions that his party was leaning towards the BJP by accusing the Modi government of "saffronizing" India and said it should be taught a lesson.
 
He also charged the BJP-led government with trying to destroy the basics of education, art, culture and religion through religious hatred. 
 
In a hard-hitting speech to delegates at the party's General Council, which elected him as the party's second president to succeed his father M. Karunanidhi, who held the post for 49 years, Stalin also hit out at the Centre saying it was painful to note that it was destroying policies of egalitarianism, social justice and rationalist thinking. 
 
"The social and political environment that is prevailing now is a big challenge to the self-respect policies. The basics of education, art, literature and religion are being sought to be destroyed by the central government through religious hatred and on the basis of official power. 
 
"The selection process in judiciary, education and state governors and the Centre's actions are aimed at sabotaging the secular principles," he said, at times overtaken by emotion.
 
Setting two immediate tasks for his party colleagues, he urged them to join him in the fight against the Modi government and also the "spineless" AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu.
 
"Come, teach a lesson to the Modi government that is attempting to saffronize the whole of India. Unite and come to throw out the spineless AIADMK government in the state," he said to thunderous applause from the over 1,300 delegates who had earlier approved his election.
 
Senior party leader Duraimurugan was elected unopposed as Treasurer. 
 
Stalin's attack on the BJP and the central government assumes significance in the context of speculation of late that the DMK may be softening towards the saffron party after it invited BJP President Amit Shah to a memorial meeting to pay homage to Karunanidhi here on Thursday.
 
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Confessing at the outset that he was not like his father and did not have the command of the language like Karunanidhi, the 65-year-old said he would dare to try new things inspired by the late Dravidian legends Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy and C.N. Annadurai. 
 
He said the DMK was a fort founded on four pillars of rationalism, self-respect, social justice and equality. 
 
"But it is painful to see that the (state) government was spineless and without self-respect and the Centre was trying to destroy equality, social justice and rationalistic policies."
 
He charged the AIADMK government with sacrificing people-centric schemes initiated by the DMK and indulging in "daylight loot" of the state.
 
"The first duty of the DMK is to remove these social evils and rescue the state from the hands of these thieves," Stalin said, adding that the biggest danger facing the country now was the existence of political parties without any principles with the single aim of targeting offices of power and pelf.
 
Telling his party colleagues that they would be seeing a 'new Stalin' from now on, he said he dreamt of leading the party treating everyone as equal.
 
"We are not anti-God. Even if we don't believe (in God) we will respect the beliefs of believers. We will act against whoever commits wrongs, including myself," he said.
 
Stalin vowed to fight for restoration of individual right of speech and media freedom, protection of right to hold individual views and oppose parties that attempt to obliterate other languages and view the whole of India on the basis of religion. 
 
"These are not distant dreams but would be put to action just now," he said.
 
The election for party President was necessitated by the death of Karunanidhi on August 7. 
 
DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan, who has been a long-time associate of Karunanidhi and senior to him in age, formally announced Stalin's election, saying 1,307 party officials have proposed and seconded him..
 
Earlier, the General Council condoled the deaths of Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, the anti-Sterlite copper smelter plant protesters killed in police firing in Tuticorin in May and also the victims of the Kerala floods.
 
The meeting passed a resolution demanding Bharat Ratna for Karunanidhi and announcing a grant of Rs 2 lakh for over 200 DMK workers and supporters who died of shock after learning about Karunanidhi's death.
 
IANS
 

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Stalin elected unopposed as DMK President

M K Stalin
M K Stalin
M. K. Stalin on Tuesday was elected as the DMK President unopposed at the party's General Council meeting held here.
 
Stalin, 65, becomes the second President of one of the oldest political party in the country, a post held by his late father and five times Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for 49 years.
 
The election for party President was necessitated after Karunanidhi died here on August 7.
 
DMK General Secretary K.Anbazhagan said that 1,307 party officials seconded Stalin's candidature.
 
Senior leader Duraimurugan was also elected unopposed as the party's Treasurer.
 
The General Council, before announcing the news, condoled the deaths of Karunanidhi, former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former UN General Secretary Kofi Annan, party cadres who died in shock after hearing of Karunanidhi's death, the anti-Sterlite copper smelter plant protesters who were killed in the police firing in Tuticorin in May and also the victims of the floods in Kerala.
 
IANS
 

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M K Stalin set to become DMK President unopposed

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DMK Working President M. K. Stalin is set to become the party President unopposed as he is the only person who has filed the nomination for that post on Sunday, the last day for filing of nominations, said a party official.
 
Similarly, senior leader Duraimurugan is also set to become the party Treasurer unopposed.
 
Stalin gave his nomination papers to DMK's Organising Secretary R. S. Bharathi.
 
Stalin and Duraimurugan will be formally elected at the General Council meeting to be held here on August 28.
 
Their names were proposed by all the district secretaries of the party, a party official said.
 
On August 20, DMK General Secretary K. Anbazhagan said in a statement that the General Council would meet at the party headquarters to elect a new President and the Treasurer.
 
Stalin, the Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu assembly, presently holds the posts of Working President and Treasurer in the DMK.
 
The party's Executive Committee has already urged Stalin to take over as the party President.
 
IANS

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Find ways to lower water level in Mullaperiyar Dam: SC to authorities

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Observing that the flood situation in Kerala is "grave", the Supreme Court on Thursday asked disaster management sub committee to sit with the National Crisis Management Committee (NCMC) on Friday to bring down the water level in Mullaperiyar Dam "so people do not live in constant fear".
 
A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Indu Malhotra also asked the Tamil Nadu and Kerala governments to co-operate with the NCMC to provide the displaced people adequate relief immediately.
 
The sub-committee constituted under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act of 2005 may suggest, before any release of water in downstream areas from Mullaperiyar Dam, "what measures can be taken to handle the disaster so that people ultimately do not suffer the catastrophe of the flood".
 
The decisions of the sub-committee regarding the water level of Mullaperiyar Dam will be implemented by Tamil Nadu and Kerala "immediately", said the bench while asking the sub committee to submit the report by Friday before it.
 
The court was hearing a PIL filed seeking directions for management of water in the Mullaperiyar Dam reservoir and announcement of a disaster management plan in relation to the dam.
 
During the hearing, counsel appearing for Kerala government told the bench that water level of the Mullaperiyar Dam should be reduced to 139 feet.
 
On the other hand, Tamil Nadu told the apex court that inflow into Mullaperiyar Dam is 20,000 cusecs and, because of rains, it may not be possible to reduce water level in the dam immediately.
 
"There is limited capacity to release water," the Tamil Nadu government said.
 
The counsel appearing for the Centre contended that the NCMC, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, met on Thursday and assured continued assistance to Kerala.
 
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The case was mentioned before the bench for urgent hearing and it agreed to hear the plea on Thursday itself.
 
The petition filed by a Kerala resident Russel Joy also sought direction for Tamil Nadu to ensure proper management of water release from the Mullaperiyar Dam, so that no harm is caused to people living downstream from the dam.
 
The counsel appearing for Joy argued that about 100 people have lost their lives and more that 1,50,000 people have been rendered homeless due to floods in Kerala.
 
The petitioner's advocate requested the top court for proper coordination between Tamil Nadu and Kerala to ensure protection of life and property of the people living in the downstream of the Mullaperiyar Dam.
 
The plea sought direction to the Central government to convene a meeting of the Committee under Section 9 of the Disaster Management Act to ensure high-level preparedness to face any disaster in relation to the Mullaperiyar Dam.
 
Tamil Nadu must ensure proper management of water release from the Mullaperiyar Dam so that no harm is caused to people living downstream from the dam, the plea states.
 
The heaviest rains and floods since 1924 witnessed in the states have caused massive destruction, leaving 87 people dead, more than 80,000 people in relief camps and damage to crops and properties that the state has estimated to be over Rs 8,000 crore.
 
IANS
 

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India will put man in space for seven days: ISRO Chairman

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For the first time, India's space agency is planning to put an Indian astronaut for seven days in space at a cost less than Rs 10,000 crore as part of its manned mission by 2022, ISRO Chairman K. Sivan said on Wednesday.
 
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi giving the Indian Space Research Organisation the target to be achieved in the next four years, Sivan told IANS: "Our plan is to have a human being in space for seven days and not less than that. 
 
"He will be in a spacecraft, 300-400 km above earth," Sivan said, as he explained that the rocket to be used for the manned mission would be a Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark III (GSLV-Mk III).
 
He said the first unmanned flight as part of a manned space mission will happen two years from now.
 
"There will be two unmanned space missions before the actual manned space mission," Sivan added.
 
In his Independence Day address to the nation, Modi said: "In space technology, we have dreamt something; our scientists have dreamt something. And I am happy to announce that by 2022, the 75th Independence year, we are planning a manned space mission.
 
"We will put an Indian in space by 2022 or earlier," Modi said.
 
Asked about the first animal flight before the actual manned mission, Sivan said those things have to be discussed.
 
Queried about the target date set by Modi and the steps to be taken by ISRO, Sivan said: "We will have to get a formal approval for the project. The manned mission project cost will be less than Rs 10,000 crore.
 
"We are in the process of developing some of the technologies and already have some. Our idea is to develop everything within India," he added.
 
According to him, ISRO has already tested the crew module and crew escape systems.
 
The space agency on July 5 carried out a successful maiden pad abort test at its spaceport Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh for the safe escape of the crew in an emergency.
 
"The technology is very essential for our manned missions in the future," Sivan had said at an event on July 7.
 
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The critical technology is designed to quickly pull the crew module along with the astronauts to a safe distance from the launch vehicle in the event of a launch abort.
 
"We are in the process of developing the life support system for the astronaut, space suit and other things. ISRO is doing this with the support of industries," Sivan had said.
 
The ISRO Chairman had then said that the space agency was "not close" to a human spaceflight yet.
 
"We are not close to that. We need to work a lot towards achieving the dream of putting a man in space."
 
According to him, the selection of astronaut to fly the spacecraft would be done by the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the spaceflight training would be given overseas.
 
Sivan said ISRO has to set up necessary infrastructural facilities like the control centres for the proposed manned mission.
 
He said Modi's announcement was a big kickstart and as a whole the nation's science and technology sector would benefit.
 
So far, only the US, Russia and China have launched human space flights.
 
IANS
 

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DMK leaders pledge support to Stalin

M K Stalin
M K Stalin
Top DMK leaders on Tuesday made it clear that they and the party were solidly behind its Working President M.K. Stalin, whose father and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi died a week ago.
 
An emergency meeting of the Executive Committee was called at the DMK headquarters here with a single agenda - to pass a resolution condoling the death of DMK President Karunanidhi.
 
The meeting was chaired by Stalin, who is also the Leader of the Opposition in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
 
After the passage of the condolence resolution that praised Karunanidhi and listed his numerous achievements, party leaders including Duraimurugan, T. R. Baalu and others expressed their support to Stalin and urged him to take over the party's mantle.
 
"Working President and soon-to-become President, lead us and we will obey your orders," Duraimurugan thundered.
 
Addressing the gathering, former Union Minister Baalu said in a quivering voice: "The commander of the army is no more. Nobody has to tell who will be the next commander. Stalin has all the qualities to lead."
 
Several District Secretaries of the party also voiced their staunch support to Stalin as the party's top leader.
 
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On his part, a normally clean shaven Stalin, sporting an unshaven face, said: "I have lost not only my leader but also my father."
 
Opening up on the subject publicly for the first time, he said he had pleaded with Chief Minister K. Palaniswami to allot space at the Marina beach to bury Karunanidhi.
 
"I held the hands of the Chief Minister and pleaded for space. They did not agree."
 
After the announcement of Karunanidhi's death at 6.10 p.m. on August 7, the government issued a statement formally refusing a burial space at Marina.
 
Praising the DMK's legal team led by T. Wilson, Stalin said they approached the Madras High Court late at night and won the case the next day.
 
Stalin said had the case been lost, a situation would have arisen leading to his own burial next to Karunanidhi.
 
Tuesday's meeting came a day after expelled DMK leader M.K. Alagiri, Stalin's elder brother, asserted that "true loyalists" of Karunanidhi were with him and that Stalin was a poor leader.
 
Paying homage to Karunanidhi, Alagiri, expelled from the DMK in 2014 for criticizing party leaders, told reporters that he had poured his anguish about the party to his father and not about his family.
 
But as expected, the Executive Committee lined up behind Stalin.
 
The elevation of Stalin as the party President will have to be decided by the DMK's General Council. The party has not announced a date for a General Council meeting.
 
IANS
 

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DMK Executive Committee pledges support to Stalin

The DMK's Executive Committee on Tuesday made it clear that the party was solidly behind its Working President M.K. Stalin.
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The DMK's Executive Committee on Tuesday made it clear that the party was solidly behind its Working President M.K. Stalin.
 
The urgent meeting of the Executive Committee was called at the DMK headquarters here to adopt a resolution condoling the death of party President and former Chief Minister M. Karunanidi.
 
The meeting was chaired by Stalin, who is also the Leader of the Oppositon in the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
 
After the passage of the condolence resolution, speaker after speaker including leaders like Duraimurugan, T.R. Baalu and others expressed their support to Stalin and urged him to take over the party's mantle.
 
"Working President, lead us as the party President," Duraimurugan said to cheers.
 
Addressing the gathering, former Union Minister Baalu said in a quivering voice: "The commander of the army is no more. Nobody has to tell who will be the next commander. Stalin has all the qualities to lead."
 
IANS

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Alagiri targets Stalin, days after their father Karunanidhi's death

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Six days after the death of DMK chief M. Karunanidhi, his elder son and former Union Minister M.K. Alagiri on Monday asserted that "true loyalists" of his late father were with him and that his brother M.K. Stalin was a poor leader.
 
Paying homage to Karunanidhi at his memorial at the Marina Beach here, Alagiri, who was expelled from the DMK in 2014 for criticizing party leaders, told reporters that he had poured his anguish about the party to his father.
 
He said his anguish was about the party and not about the family and the public would come to know the whole story at the appropriate time.
 
Alagiri declined to comment about the DMK's Executive Committee meeting to be held here on Tuesday, stating that he was no more in the party.
 
Alagiri aspired to succeed to the DMK's top post but Karunanidhi, the DMK President until his death, picked his other son Stalin to lead the party and designated him the Working President.
 
Once considered a strongman from Madurai, Alagiri told CNN News18 that he was the right person to head the DMK and alleged that Stalin was the "Working President" of the party but was not working. 
 
Alagiri added that he was not happy with the way the party was being run. On being asked if there would be a split in the DMK, Alagiri replied how could he split the party when he was not in it in the first place. 
 
Asked if he would do better than Stalin if given an opportunity, Alagiri told CNN: "Definitely, that is what the cadres also want."
 
IANS
 

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DMK's true loyalists with me: Alagiri

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Former Union Minister M.K. Alagiri on Monday claimed that "true loyalists" of M. Karunanidhi, his father and the late DMK President, were with him.
 
Paying homage to Karunanidhi at his memorial at the Marina Beach here, Alagiri, who was expelled from the DMK in 2014 for criticizing party leaders, told reporters that he poured his anguish about the party to his father.
 
He said his anguish was about the party and not about the family and the public would come to know the whole story at the appropriate time.
 
Alagiri declined to comment about the DMK's Executive Committee meeting to be held here on Tuesday, stating that he was no more in the party.
 
Alagiri aspired to succeed to the DMK's top post but Karunanidhi, when he was alive, preferred his other son M.K. Stalin over the former.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Karunanidhi laid to rest on Marina by his mentor's side

DMK patriarch and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi was buried beside his mentor C.N. Annadurai on the sands of Marina beach in Chennai on Wednesday as lakhs of commoners wept, pushed and jostled for space to bid adieu to their leader.
M. Karunanidhi (File photo: IANS)
M. Karunanidhi (File photo: IANS)
DMK patriarch and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi was buried beside his mentor C.N. Annadurai on the sands of Marina beach here on Wednesday after his party clinched a midnight legal battle as lakhs of commoners wept, pushed and jostled for space to bid adieu to their leader, causing a stampede that killed two mourners and injured many.
 
The leader of the DMK for 50 long years and without doubt one of India's most experienced politicians, Karunanidhi breathed his last owing to age-related ailments in a private hospital here on Tuesday evening. There was a complete shutdown in the city and across the state. The government declared a public holiday today as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi.
 
After a two-hour funeral procession covering a distance of less than 3 km headed by the late leader's son and DMK Working President M.K. Stalin wound its way from Rajaji Hall to the Marina shores, the tri-colour wrapped body with his trademark black shades and yellow stole still intact was interred in a freshly dug grave with soldiers giving him a state funeral with full military honours.
 
A military band played "Honouring Those Who Served" as the casket was taken from the cortege to the grave. Buglers sounded the last post and gunners fired a 21-gun salute after the body of the 94-year-old five-time Chief Minister was lowered at 7 p.m. amid a crescendo of slogans. 
 
As Karunanidhi's body on a flower-decked military vehicle began its last journey from Rajaji Hall, tens of thousands of emotionally-charged men and women lined up on both sides of the road to Marina, shouting slogans hailing the departed leader for his services to the poor and the downtrodden.
 
In keeping with his rationalist beliefs, Karunanidhi's body in a sandalwood casket was lowered into the earth without religious rituals. As per his wish, the words -- "The person who had worked without rest is resting here" -- were sculpted on the casket.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress President Rahul Gandhi and a galaxy of national opposition leaders joined the sea of mourners from across Tamil Nadu who swelled outside Rajaji Hall where the body was kept since morning for public homage.
 
Those who paid last respects included Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar, National Conference President Farooq Abdullah, Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav, Rashtriya Janata Dal ledear Tejashwi Yadav, CPI-M General Secretary Sitaram Yechury, his predecessor Prakash Karat, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayansamy, Karnataka Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. 
 
Some of the leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, Naidu, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda, Azad and Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien joined the top party leaders, including 95-year-old DMK General Secretary K. Anbalagan, and members of Karunanidhi family at the burial site. 
 
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee flew into Chennai on Tuesday night and visited Karunanidhi's Gopalapuram residence here to pay her last respects. 
 
Stalin greeted the leaders as the procession reached its destination. Union Ministers Pon Radhakrishnan and Ramdas Athawle were also present. Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D. Jayakumar represented the AIADMK government.
 
 
Karunanidhi's final journey
 
 
Stalin and his sister Selvi broke down and cried inconsolably at the Marina beach before the body of the patriarch was interred. Stalin had wept in the morning too after the DMK won the legal battle for a burial place space.
 
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit, Chief Minister E. Palaniswamy, his deputy O. Panneerselvam and a number of cabinet ministers also placed wreaths and paid homage at Rajaji Hall in the morning even as a legal battle was on against the AIADMK government's order allotting a burial place for Karunanidhi on Sardar Patel road.
 
After a long, midnight hearing, a two-judge bench of the Madras High Court headed by acting Chief Justice H. Ramesh rejected the government's contention and permitted the burial on the Marina beach. It also asked the government to take all steps to assist in the process.
 
A bevy of personalities from the entertainment world, including superstars Rajinikanth and Kamal Haasan and yesteryear stars, paid their respects to a leader who was long associated with the cinema through his powerful dialogue writing and screenplay scripting.
 
Chaos struck near Rajaji Hall, the British-built banquet hall in the sprawling government estate, where lakhs gathered eager to have a last glimpse of the leader. Their attempts to get near the casket resulted in commotion. Police used force to bring the situation under control but two people, including a 60-year-old-woman, lost their lives in the stampede. At least 35 people were injured.
 
Modi, who flew from Delhi in a special plane in the morning, laid a wreath on the body at Rajaji Hall. After going around the casket, the Prime Minister patted Stalin and Karunanidhi's daughter Kanimozhi, an MP, and comforted them with words of solace. The Prime Minister later tweeted that though Karunanidhi "is dead, he lives in the heart of crores of people."
 
In Delhi, as the two Houses of Parliament paid homage to the last link of the Dravidian era and adjourned for the day, the central government observed a day of national mourning. The national flag flew half-mast and all government functions were cancelled.
 
IANS

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