"Impose Presidential Rule in Tamil Nadu," - NDA Resolves.
National Democratic Alliance leaders, who met this evening in New Delhi, have resolved that Presidential rule should be imposed in Tamil Nadu. Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister, chaired the meeting.
The Cabinet was to meet today for the second consecutive day to take stock of the situation, but it was postponed in view of the NDA meeting convened by the Prime Minister this evening to discuss the report of the NDA team, which visited Chennai.
Among those who attended the NDA meeting were senior BJP leaders Sikandar Bakht, Yashwant Sinha, Jaswant Singh, Jaitley and Malhotra, the Biju Janata Dal's Arjun Charan Das, the DMK's T N Shiva and Samata Party's Nitish Kumar.
Earlier in the day, the National Democratic Alliance convener George Fernandes, who returned from Chennai after meeting both Maran and Baalu in jail, telephoned the Prime Minister Vajpayee that both Central Ministers are in bad shape, because the state administration has given them the bare minimum of facilities in jail.
Two Ministers, Maran and Baalu, have complained that they are being forced to eat stale food, and are being treated with disrespect by even the lowest member of the jail staff.
Again, Fernandes, who led an NDA fact-finding mission comprising BJP leader Vijaya Kumar Malhotra and Central Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, met Vajpayee this afternoon briefed the Prime Minister on the situation in Tamil Nadu.
At the same time, it is learnt that Vajpayee has assured his colleagues that he will not hesitate to act if his Government is convinced that there is a breakdown of the constitutional machinery.
Another team led by Mukund Bihari Kaushal, special secretary in the home ministry, has also returned from Chennai and is expected to report to the Prime Minister this afternoon.
The Fernandes and Kaushal reports will be placed before the Cabinet when it is rescheduled to meet tomorrow and in the course of the meeting it is expected that the Union Government would determine further course of action.
In the meantime, the former Chief Minister Muthuvel Karunanidhi is still kept in an isolated cell and languishing in the Central Jail at Chennai. Era Nayudu, the parliamentary leader of the Telungu Desam Party visited Karunanidhi in the prison. Also the wife and daughter of Karunanidhi too were allowed to visit him. It is learnt that they were with the DMK leader for about one hour.
The two union cabinet ministers, Murosoli Maran and T. R. Balu too are still under judicial custody - Maran at the Apollo hospital and Balu at the Velore prison. They said that since the cases against them had not been dismissed, they did not wish to leave jail until the issue was resolved, and were either declared innocent or punished, if found guilty.
Conflicting versions were reported about the success of the 12 hours bundh in Tamil Nadu. Whilst Professor K. Anbalagan, the general secretary of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam in his statement thanked profusely the people of Tamil Nadu for to have heeded the National Democratic Fronts appeal and made the bundh a success, but the Chief Secretary to the Government of Tamil Nadu in his statement said that business as usual was carried out in the state, without any untoward incidents. Generally it was reported that the bundh in Tamil Nadu and Pondichery passed off peacefully.
As usual, the Sun T. V and Jaya TVs, the two rival cable television networks were involved in war of video visuals, trying to proof the rights and wrongs of the arrest of Karunanidhi and the two union ministers.
Yesterday evening, Muthukaruppan, the Police Commissioner of Chennai, hurriedly summoned a press conference and showed to the media persons, video footings of the arrest of Karunanidhi, said to have been taken by the police, whilst they arrested the former chief minister.
The press conference, which was obviously meant as a damage control exercise, wasn't too successful in achieving that objective due to media persons raised some very uncomfortable question, who were incensed by the arrest of over 100 of their number on Saturday morning.
'You had told us that only Sun TV's cameraman was allowed into Karunanidhi's house to videotape the arrest, so where did your tape come from?'
'Why did it take you more than 40 hours to release this tape?'
'Why have you not made a statement on the arrest of the journalists?
What is the crime they have been charged with?'
Muthukaruppan stonewalled on the first two questions. He said that he did not have details regarding the arrest of journalists, and would respond at a future date.
Pressmen who attended the conference asked, pointedly, why the police commissioner did not have details of the arrest of over one hundred media persons in the capital city.
Muthukaruppan terminated the media briefing and left in a hurry.
In the wake of the confusion, a new demand has been put forward, by the media and various political parties, that the police should immediately release the original, unedited tape so that the truth of the matter can be verified, once for all. There has been no response to this demand.
Today morning, Sun TV replayed the TV visuals released by the police repeatedly pointing out that it is using the Police tape and not the one it had shot and it telecasts in slow motion, shots of Karunanidhi smiling, walking towards the waiting police, suddenly freezing in a place and gazing with what appears to be some apprehension towards an official in civil dress standing with the Police.
With blood-red arrows indicating points of interest, the video sequence continues to run -and shows Muhammed Ali striding towards Karunanidhi, grabbing his arm, and yanking it forcefully. Off balance, the DMK president falls and lands, sprawling, on a sofa. Also Sun TV pointed out from the Police visuals how the Police was forcefully dragging Karunanidhis wife.
Also Sun TV raised few pertinent questions:
Why it took more than 40 hours for the Police Commissioner to release the videotape?
Why the Police release videotapes only in parts and what happened to their full coverage?
Why this videotape was not shown to the Home Ministry Officials when they visited Chennai?
Why the Chief Secretary of the Tamil Nadu Government forwards the videotape to the Home ministry, along with his report?
Why the disgraced governor failed to forward the videotape along with her report to the Indian President?
More and more questions were asked.
Meanwhile, amid tight security, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa visited the Guruvayur Sri Krishna Temple on Monday morning to offer an elephant to the deity in fulfillment of her vows.
Jayalalithaa was inside the temple for nearly one hour. The ceremony concerning the handing over of the 12-year-old tusker, Kannan, took about 30 minutes.
There was unprecedented tight security in Guruvayur town in view of the call for a hartal by the local unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party and some other organizations to protest against her visit.
A group of BJP workers held a black flag demonstration when she arrived at the temple. Breaking the police cordon, they came close to the temple, but were soon dispersed by Police. More than 25 BJP men and the devotees of the temple were hurt in the melee with the Police. Also the temple was closed to other devotees for more than one hour till Jayalalithaa and her entourage left the temple.
Accompanied by her live-in-partner Sasikala Natarajan, Jayalalithaa arrived at the Cochin International Airport in the early morning by a chartered aircraft. She reached Guruvayur by road and arrived at the temple.
In view of the security concerns on account of the developments in Tamil Nadu, Kerala Chief Minister A K Antony had advised Jayalalithaa to put off her visit. Kerala Chief Secretary V Krishnamurthy conveyed the advice to the Tamil Nadu Government.
However, ignoring the advice, Jayalalithaa went ahead with her visit, thus creating embarrassment to Kerala.
Flaccid Approach of Vajapayees Government, Failed to Resolve Pertinent Issues, Conclusively
The Cabinet of Ministers met to resolve the issues connected with the arrest of Muthuvel Karunanidhi and of the two union ministers, Murosoli Maran and T.R.Balu have soft-pedaled by issuing merely warning to the Tamil Nadu Government. The so-called warning has brought about a new lease of life to almost shaken and agitated J. Jayalaithaa and to her Government.
Briefing reporters on the outcome of todays Cabinet meeting, the Law and Justice Minister Arun Jaitley said that the warning sent to the Tamil Nadu Government was in accordance with the framework of Center-state relationship laid down by the Sarkaria Commission and endorsed by the Supreme Court.
He added that the Union Government on Tuesday sent a stern warning to the Tamil Nadu Government, asking it to "rectify the breaches of Constitutional propriety" committed during the recent arrest for former Chief Minister and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief M Karunanidhi and two Union Ministers in Chennai.
In the meantime, a delegation representing ten Sri Lankan Thamil parties and the Muslim Liberation Front led by Mujibur Rahman, met yesterday in Colombo the Indian High Commissioner, Gopal Krishna Gandhi and handed over a letter addressed to the Indian Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, condemning the arrest and incarceration of the former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi.
The letter described the arrest as a "blatant display of brutal vengeance with a view to satisfying certain sadistic instincts and inclinations," and expressed the hope that the Government of India would take appropriate measures to remove this "blot on the largest democracy in the world".
Sri Kantha, who had signed the letter as the Convener of the group, said that whenever Karunanidhi was at the receiving end and was putting up a fight, the Eelam Thamils saw him as a "Thamil warrior." There was always a "resurgence of Thamil nationalistic feeling" when he is persecuted either by the Central Indian Government or the Tamil Nadu Government.
As an interesting development, the principal sessions judge Ashok Kumar, today flayed the Police for non-compliance of his directive that former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, who was arrested in the early hours of Saturday in connection with the flyover scam, be medically examined by a panel of doctors at a Government hospital before lodging him in jail.
The Judge pointed out that he had specifically passed an order that Karunanidhi be examined by a panel of certified medical officers, including the former Chief Ministers family physician, the judge said "the whole world has seen Karunanidhi sitting like a beggar before the central prison, begging for medical treatment."
"Is he (Karunanidhi) made of muscle or mud?" the judge asked.
The Police investigating officer Pathmanathan contended that the remand order with the direction to give Karunanidhi medical treatment had been handed over to another officer, who had taken the former Chief Minister straight to jail.
The judge also took the officer to task for lodging M. K. Stalin in Madurai jail, despite his order that he be kept in the central jail in Chennai.
The judge expressed anguish over the manner in which rules and procedures had not been followed by crime branch-CID, while registering a complaint lodged by Chennai Corporation Commissioner J T Acharyalu, regarding corrupt practices in the construction of flyovers in the city.
On the basis of the complaint made by Acharyalu, Karunanidhi, his son and City Mayor M K Stalin, former chief secretary K A Nambiar and 10 others were arrested.
The officer, who was asked to take the witness box, was also hauled up for not interrogating any of the accused prior to their arrests, not mentioning the time the First Information Report was registered and not securing a search warrant.
The officer said his investigation so far had revealed that pecuniary gains had only gone to contractors and none to the accused. In all, he said about Rs 200 crore had been utilized on the construction of the flyovers.
Stating that the complaint had been received at 1400 hrs and registered within 30 minutes, he said he had discussed the matter at about 2000 hrs with his superiors, who directed him to go ahead with the arrests.
Meanwhile Karunanidhis lawyer who met him today in the prison cell said that, the former Chief Minister has requested him not to file any bail application on his behalf. The lawyer further added that Karunanidhi has expressed his intention to fight the case by being in the prison.
Venkiah Naidu, the Union Minister for Rural Development in an interview to Rediff.Com said: "There are methods to deal with irregularities. She (Jayalalithaa) asked the corporation commissioner to file the charge sheet. He refused. She transferred him, got somebody (J.T. Acharyalu), who was earlier suspended on corruption charges. That man simply obeys and issues orders. On the basis of that, a FIR is filed without anyone's knowledge. The same night the former CM is arrested at 1.30 a.m. You ill-treat Central Ministers who had gone there, beat them, arrest them. You make Central Minister (T R) Baalu wait on the road for four hours. All this shows she (Jayalalithaa) wants to take revenge and threaten others."
This morning Dr. P.Gopal Karunanidhis family physician who visited Karunanidi in the prison said that the health condition of former Tamil Nadu chief minister, lodged in the central jail here since June 30, was causing concern.
"Karunanidhis legs are swollen and his blood pressure too has risen and he needs intensive medical care," he told reporters outside the prison.
Dr Gopal said Karunanidhi had, however, turned down a suggestion by a panel of doctors attending on him that he be shifted to the Government General Hospital.
Thirumavalan of All India Panther Movement, Dr. Krishnaswamy, Dr. Dheeran and Kannappan visited Karunanidhi in the prison and they told the press persons waited outside the prison that, Karunanidhi has refused to shifted to the Government Hospital when more than 32000 of his own party men were languishing in the jails.
L. Ganeshan the Secretary of the Tamil Nadu state BJP, who visited Karunanidhi in his prison cell along with Dr. Kirupanidhi, the state president of the BJP and Laxmanan, the former president, said that though Karunanidhis legs were swollen, his spirit is high. Dr. Ramadas of the Pattali Makkal Kadchi too visited Karunanidhi.
In another development, earlier Union Minister Murosoli Maran faxed a blow-to-blow account of events and circumstances leading to the arrest of Karunanidhi and others by the Tamil Nadu Police in the pre-dawn swoop by hours of Saturday, to Atal Behari Vajapayee. According to Maran, he rushed to Karunanidhis house after getting a call from the DMK president requesting help.
He stated that the police carried Karunanidhi away like a bundle, and hit him in the chest where he had a pacemaker.
According to Marans statement, a posse of more than 20 police personal brutally attacked him and the DMK president.
He added that Karunanidhi was brutally attacked by the Police, and he lost his balance and fell down. Karunanidhi was crying out in pain. Immediately after carrying him down, the Police bolted the doors from outside and went away, carrying Karunanidhi who was uttering sounds because of physical pain inflicted on him.
Maran added that two IPS officers, whom Maran named as George and Christopher, shouted: "You are under arrest."
"They abused me in filthy language and without caring for my physical condition, they said that if I did not get down, they would teach me a lesson," Marans account reads.
Maran in his statement pointed out of how some Police officers hesitated to arrest him, and how the officer whom he identifies as George, shoved him around. "Others started showering blow after blow on me," Maran's account reads. "Then they carried me out like a parcel and dropped me down in the portico. I had a spell of dizziness and fell down on the doorstep," Marans narration says.
"Because they hit me on my right eye, my spectacle got smashed. Because it was made of plastic, my eye did not get damaged. "
"Then I felt a blow on my head. One fellow shouted "Hit him in the right place" and then I received a blow on my left chest where I am fitted with a pacemaker. My dhoti was lifted and torn and I was in my underwear. Then they threw me down and hit me with their heavy boots. I received wounds in my left foot and blood was flowing out," according to Marans account.
"Immediately I felt abnormal palpitation and was gasping for breath, which are bad symptoms for my heart ailment. I do remember now that I murmured, 'Take me to the Hospital.' Soon after that, I fainted."
"When I woke up, with a torn dhoti and bleeding leg, I was taken to the vehicle; the driver told me that the Police had taken away the keys of the vehicle and ran away. With the help of my wife and DMK cadres, I went to the street. An auto-rickshaw driver recognized me and took me to the house of Principal Sessions Judge Ashok Kumar.
"Then I was taken in an ambulance van, which had arrived just then, to the Apollo Hospitals Emergency Ward. I went through various examinations, and they admitted me as a patient," Maran said in his account.
Marans son Dayanidhi told that his father would have to remain in the Hospital for at least a couple of days more. "His pacemaker has slightly shifted during the Police assault," he said.
Earlier in the afternoon, the Tamil Nadu Government today decided to withdraw the cases filed against Union Ministers Murasoli Maran and T R Baalu in connection with the protests over the arrests of DMK president M Karunanidhi.
Also it was announced that 32,000 DMK men who are languishing in the Tamil Nadu jails are to be released with immediate effect.
-EelamNation - 04/07/01
Muthuvel Karunanidhi President of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu was released this evening. Karunanidhi, who was arrested in the pre-dawn swoop on Saturday 30 June, was released this evening, bringing a huge sigh of relief to millions and millions of Thamils from all over the world.
At 17.20 hrs, this evening, Karunanidhi wade through the Chennai Central Prison doors, lonely, without any expectations in the face. At the entrance of the prisons thousands of Thamils who swamp to welcome Karunanidhi were rejoiced when they saw him limping out of the prison to freedom and gave a noisy welcome.
People all over India burst crackers to celebrate the release of the veteran political leader from Tamil Nadu. In Chennai and all over Tamil Nadu the news of the release spread like a wildfire and people from all walks of life without any party distinctions burst crackers and distributed sweets and celebrated the septuagenarians release.
Later in the evening Karunanidhi met the media personnel at the "Kalaingngar Arangam," at the "Arivalayam Complex," which housed the DMK party headquarters. Karunanidhi narrated the sequence of events right from his arrest in the early hours of June 30 till his release and described police action as "barbaric".
Karunanidhi, who spoke very gently, was very much composed said he was thankful to the National Democratic Alliance Government for the efforts it took to resolve the issue. He said he was particularly grateful to the media, which played an outstanding role in projecting the denial of human rights and the inhuman treatment meted out to DMK leaders.
He added that there was a large number of leaders cutting across party lines, including AIADMK allies too were agitated and shocked after seeing the way he and the other DMK leaders were arrested. The DMK president said NDA leaders including L K Advani, George Fernandes, Arun Jaitley and Venkaiah Naidu had played a lead role in mobilizing opinion in favor of action against the AIADMK Government. They spoke to him conveying their agony over the incidents.
Asked if he was satisfied with the steps taken by the Union Government, Karunanidhi said that he has already expressed his satisfaction when Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee spoke to him over the telephone shortly after he came out of the prison this evening, at his Gopalapuram residence.
When asked about the steps taken by the Union Government, he said that the Center had given a direction to the State Government to implement certain measures like taking action against erring police officials. If the State Government did not comply, the Center should take action. He emphasized that "A Central Government which did not enforce its direction in this situation, cannot be called a Central Government."
Karunanidhi warned of serious consequence if in case the J. Jayalalithaas Government fails to implement the Center's directive.
Karunanidhi said the Tamil Nadu situation had become an International issue, and if the people of India did not continue their vigil, there was the danger of an Emergency in Tamil Nadu, he said.
The Union Industry and Commerce Minister Murasoli Maran, was released from the Apollo Hospital this morning visited Karunanidhi in the prison along with T. R. Balu the other Union Minister who was released yesterday from the Vellore prison said that Karunanidhi's arrest was part of a 'suspected conspiracy' to eliminate the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam president Dr. Karunanidhi.
Maran said Karunanidhis condition was deteriorating and his hands were swollen. If anything happens to the DMK leader, Jayalalithaa should bear the entire responsibility, he pointed out.
Charging the AIADMK Government with having conspired to murder Karunanidhi and him, he said in an emotional tone that the State Government should decide whether it should conduct the "funeral" of Karunanidhi or the DMK party.
He along with T. R. Balu, talking to reporters outside the central jail said, "The situation here is extraordinary and the remedy should also be an extraordinary one." Even Mahatma Gandhi would have ordered use of Article 356; he replied to a question about the DMKs stand so far that the provision should be repealed. "We are still for the repeal of the Article," he hastened to add.
Asked whether the DMK was happy with the Center issuing a warning to the State Government, Maran said it was not a question of happiness. "This is only the first step and we have complete faith in Prime Minister A B Vajpayee."
Previous Governments had invoked Article 356 about 105 times to dismiss State Governments but the NDA Government at the Center did not want to take any hasty step regarding imposition of President's rule since it was a responsible Government and believed in federalism, he said.
"We, however, doubt whether the sadist and maniac rulers in the State would understand the Center's language," he added.