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SC bans DMK bandh over Ram Setu
Says such acts of political parties can’t be tolerated
S.S. Negi
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 30
In a severe jolt to the Karunanidhi-led DMK alliance in Tamil Nadu, the Supreme Court today banned Monday’s state-wide bandh called by it on the Sethusamudram issue in the backdrop of the Chief Minister questioning the very existence of Lord Ram and the Ram Sethu built by him and trying to make it an issue of north-south divide and clash of Aryan-Dravidan culture.

After a three-hour long arguments on Opposition AIADMK petitions, a Bench of justices B.N. Agrawal and P.P. Nalolekar, which assembled on Sunday for a special hearing of the matter, declared the government sponsored bandh as illegal and unconstitutional holding that the right of public would prevail upon the political rights of parties.

The Congress, which is an ally of the DMK-led coalition in the state and leads the UPA at the Centre, remained tight-lipped on the bandh call given by Karunanidhi’s party.

The Congress steered clear of the Supreme Court but said as a concept such protests had no place in a democracy like India.

AICC media department chairperson Veerappa Moily, who is in Moscow, said “restraint” was the real solution for conflict resolution. He said bandhs often turn violent and there was a lot of disruption of economic life. Besides, October 2 was being observed as International Non-Violence Day and it would be desirable if all political parties work in that spirit.

However, the DMK and its other allies in Tamil Nadu after the stay order declared that they would go on a hunger strike, according to one of their functionary present in the apex court as well as the reports reaching here from Chennai.

Allowing the plea of AIADMK, the apex court in a strongly worded order disapproved the bandh call, particularly when given by a ruling party whose responsibilities and obligations were more to uphold the rule of law and the Constitution. “Public rights are superior than the individual political rights of a party or parties,” the court observed.

“We can’t tolerate these kinds of activities by political parties,” said Justice Agrawal, heading the Bench, which held a special sitting on a weekly holiday after AIADMK counsel Guru Krishnakumar made a request for an urgent hearing of the case as he said the petition would become infructuous after Monday if the ruling coalition went ahead with state-wide bandh call.

The court asked DMK counsel Altaf Ahmed and A.K. Ganguly as to what the ruling party would achieve by closing the public services, educational institutions and commercial activities even when to maintain them was its primary responsibility. “The protest is against whom. Is it against the project, the Centre or the court,” the Bench in a terse query asked.

The AIADMK had moved the apex court after the Madras High Court on Saturday declined to ban the bandh.

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Karunanidhi to lead fast
Arup Chanda
Tribune News Service

Chennai, September 30
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi will lead a fast by DMK-led alliance leaders here tomorrow instead of the bandh which was stayed by the Supreme Court. The bandh was called for a speedy implementation of the Sethusamudram ship canal project.

Karunanidhi said, “The fast is for the removal of obstacles for the speedy implementation of the project. “Instead of the bandh we will be observing a fast,” he added.

The Chief Minister along with other DPA leaders will observe a day’s fast in front of the state guest House here.

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‘Nothing against Ram’

Thanjavur, September 30
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi has toned down his critical remarks against Lord Ram.

These had created a national furore even leading to a ‘fatwa’ being issued against him, by stating that he was not against the Hindu God.

“What enmity do I have with Lord Ram? His enemy has to be Ravana and not me,” he said at Vallam, near here, yesterday.

He said he was only against those who were trying to put spokes in the project in his name. — UNI

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