Two dead in stampede at veteran Tamil politician's funeral in Chennai

State government denies permission for politician to be buried at Marina beach, which has hiked tension in the city


Afp August 08, 2018
Supporters hold the portrait of the Indian Tamil leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi during his funeral in Chennai on August 8, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

CHENNAI: Indian police on Wednesday used batons to drive back tens of thousands of mourners thronging the funeral of a revered regional politician, triggering a stampede that reportedly left two devotees dead.

Grieving supporters of Muthuvel Karunanidhi poured into the southeastern city of Chennai to pay last respects to the man who died Tuesday aged 94.

Supporters gather outside the Rajaji hall during the funeral of the Indian Tamil leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi in Chennai, India August. PHOTO: AFP Supporters gather outside the Rajaji hall during the funeral of Tamil leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi in Chennai. PHOTO: AFP

A sea of mourners swelled in the streets as the coffin was taken to its resting place in the Tamil Nadu state capital.

But there was a stampede as police pushed back against mourners as they strove for a final glimpse of Karunanidhi.

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Two people were killed and others injured in the melee, Indian news outlets reported. Police officials contacted by AFP were unable to confirm the reports.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets people as he arrives for the funeral of the Indian Tamil leader Muthuvel Karunanidhi in Chennai, India August 8, 2018. PHOTO: AFP Prime Minister Narendra Modi greets people as he arrives for the funeral. PHOTO: AFP

Tension had been building in the city after the state government Tuesday denied permission for the politician to be buried at the popular Marina beach.

Karunanidhi's party, the opposition Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), approached the state's highest court. It ruled that the five-time state chief minister should be buried next to his mentor CN Annadurai at the seaside memorial.

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Karunanidhi, a charismatic self-styled champion of the poor, reshaped regional politics through his opposition to high-caste hegemony and was idolised by legions of his supporters.

He earned the loyalty of many rural voters with a series of populist schemes and fiery speeches in support of the so-called backward castes.

A school dropout, Karunanidhi became involved in politics at a young age, spearheading the DMK party through 12 state elections, all of which he contested and won.

Affectionately called "Kalaignar" or scholar, he wrote reams of poems, lyrics and books and was a prolific screenwriter for the Tamil film industry.

COMMENTS (1)

Bunny Rabbit | 3 years ago | Reply these things are bound to happen . he was a very big charismatic leader for more than 8 decades .
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