Thursday, July 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Karunanidhi freed on ‘humane grounds’

Chennai, July 4
The DMK President and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Mr M. Karunanidhi, today came out of the Central Prison after the Jayalalitha government, considering his advanced age, ordered his release on humanitarian grounds.

Principal Sessions Judge S. Ashok Kumar ordered his release on a memo filed by the investigating officer, stating that the continued detention of Mr Karunanidhi was no longer required for investigation. The judge directed Mr Karunanidhi to appear before the court on receipt of summons.

Mr Karunanidhi was arrested in connection with the alleged irregularities to the tune of Rs 12 crore in the construction of flyovers in the city.

Earlier, Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha, ordered his release and said the case against Mr Karunanidhi would, however, continue.

Senior DMK leaders, including Union Ministers Murasoli Maran, who was discharged from the Apollo Hospital earlier in the day, and T. R. Baalu went to the Central Prison to receive him. Mr Karunanidhi came out of the Central Prison at 5.20 p.m.

A large number of DMK supporters shouted anti-Jayalalitha slogans and hailed the release of Mr Karunanidhi. On coming out of the Central Jail, Mr Karunanidhi said: “My release is due to the hue and cry raised by fellow Tamils all over the world”.

“I am too tired to deliver a lengthy speech”, a haggard looking Karunanidhi told scores of DMK men, who had gathered in front of the prison on hearing his release.

As Karunanidhi came out, partymen shouted “long live our leader”.

Policemen had a tough time in controlling the surging crowd which wanted to have a glimpse of Mr Karunanidhi as he got inside a car.

He said his release was not out of anyone’s “mercy” or sympathy but due to the hue and cry raised by Tamils all over the world.

He was apparently referring to the state government’s order for his release considering his “advanced age and on humanitarian grounds.”

Soon after his release from the prison, Mr Karunanidhi drove straight to DMK headquarters ‘Anna Arivalayam’. In another development, Mr Karunanidhi, on Wednesday requested the state government to withdraw police personnel provided for his security.

In a letter to the state Home Secretary, released to the media here, he said it was in their (security personnel) presence that senior police officials barged into his house and arrested him in the middle of the night. “My security men were mute spectators to the whole episode.” PTI, UNI


Maran alleges plot to kill Karunanidhi

Chennai, July 4
Union Industry and Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran today said that the Karunanidhi arrest episode was part of a ‘suspected conspiracy’ to eliminate DMK President M. Karunanidhi and himself and said the ‘extraordinary situation’ in Tamil Nadu warranted the imposition of President’s rule.

“I think it is an overall conspiracy to eliminate our leader Karunanidhi. They did not want me as a witness to their act and wanted to kill me also. This is my suspicion,” he told reporters here after being discharged from hospital.

Mr Maran was allegedly assaulted by policemen when they went to arrest Karunanidhi in the wee hours of Saturday. Later he was admitted to Apollo Hospital, where he was arrested on the charge of obstructing policemen on duty and remanded to custody.

The minister said an ‘extraordinary’ situation was prevailing in the state and, therefore, ‘extraordinary’ remedy in the form of invoking President’s rule should be considered.

He said though there was no change in his party’s stand against use of Article 356, “it is an extraordinary situation requiring extraordinary remedy.”

The swearing in of AIADMK supremo Jayalalitha as Chief Minister despite being disqualified to contest elections was another example of the violation of the Constitution, he said.

On the police charge that it was he who had hit the policemen, Mr Maran said: ‘I did not hit anybody. I was struggling for my life.’

Asked about the next course of action, Mr Maran said he would consult his lawyers whether action could be initiated against police officers who had ‘attacked and assaulted’ him.

On the reported remarks of state Minister M. Thambidurai that if need arose even the Prime Minister could be arrested, Mr Maran said ‘it is a threat and an insult to the one billion population of the country.’ PTI


DMK activist sets himself ablaze

Madurai, July 4
A DMK activist allegedly committed self immolation in Ramanathapuram district yesterday protesting the arrest of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, the police said today.

The DMK activist, who was reportedly depressed after the party chief’s arrest, set himself ablaze and later succumbed to burn injuries in a hospital, the police said. PTI


3 ministers opposed Central rule
T. R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 4
The insistence of three Union Ministers that the BJP-led NDA government should not take recourse to invoking Article 356 of the Constitution dismissing the Jayalalitha government in Tamil Nadu held sway in the Cabinet meeting held here last evening.

External Affairs and Defence Minister Jaswant Singh, Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Minister for Disinvestment Arun Shourie stoutly opposed the majority view that the AIADMK government should be brought under central rule.

Authoritative sources said the three ministers underlined the need to adopt a step-by-step approach in keeping with the judgements of the Supreme Court and the recommendations of the Sarkaria Commission pertaining to the Centre-state relations.

The three ministers underlined the need to watch the unfolding developments in Tamil Nadu and see if the AIADMK supremo and Chief Minister J Jayalalitha heeds the Centre’s warning of adhering to the rule of law and ensuring constitutional propriety.

They maintained that if Ms Jayalalitha continued to vitiate the atmosphere by throwing all norms of democracy and the rule of law to the winds, the Vajpayee government could still take recourse to Article 356 and send the Jaya’s regime at Fort St George in Chennai packing.

With Ms Jayalalitha buckling under with the Centre’s no-nonsense approach, the two central ministers arrested were released by quashing cases against them. The ailing and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and DMK chief M Karunanidhi was also discharged from jail today but investigations in the Rs 12 crore flyover scam case would continue.

It is no secret that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s Shiromani Akali Dal, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party and the DMK have been demanding that Article 356 should be removed from the statute books to avoid its virulent misuse as evidenced during the Congress rule at the Centre.

It will not be out of place to mention here that when Ms Jayalalitha was part of the NDA and constantly blowing hot and cold, the Prime Minister had used Mr Jaswant Singh as his trouble shooter to soothe ruffled feathers because of his rapport with the whimsical AIADMK leader.

The NDA fact-finding team headed by former Union Defence Minister George Fernandes and comprising Mr Dhindsa and BJP leader Vijay Kumar Malhotra had in its report to the Prime Minister emphasised that people at large in Tamil Nadu wanted the Centre to take stern action against Ms Jayalalitha’s government. The stern action was an unmistakable pointer to dismissing the AIADMK government in Tamil Nadu. The NDA team, therefore, did not take upon itself of recommending the imposition of President’s rule in Tamil Nadu.

The Supreme Court and the Sarkaria Commission had drawn pointed attention to the widespread misuse of Article 356 and observed that a warning should be given to erring states to mend their ways.

The country’s apex court and the Sarkaria Commission were of the opinion that if the state concerned failed to take cognisance of the Centre’s warning and continued to violate the provisions of the Constitution, then the Union Government should impose President’s rule.

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