Three killed in attack on Dinakaran office
Madurai Collector S.S.Jawahar consoling employees of Sun Television after their office in Madurai was attacked allegedly by supporters of M.K. Azhagiri, on Wednesday. Photo: S.James
Madurai, May 9 (PTI): A raging dispute in DMK's first family today took a violent turn when three people of Maran-family owned Tamil newspaper 'Dinakaran' were killed after supporters of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi's elder son M K Azhagiri attacked the daily's office and set it afire, angered over an opinion poll favouring his brother Stalin.
The protesters, who hurled petrol bombs and stones at the building, went on a rampage against the survey published by the newspaper owned by Karunanidhi's grand nephew Kalanidhi Maran, brother of Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, on who would be the ageing DMK's patriarch's possible political heir.
Two computer engineers and a security personnel of 'Dinakaran', which had published the opinion poll that gave 70 per cent rating for Stalin over two per cent for Azhagiri as Karunanidhi's successor, perished in the fire.
Azhagiri is the southern face of DMK in Tamil Nadu having control of the party down Madurai, while Stalin is a minister in his father's Cabinet.
CM dismiss talk of dynastic politics
Saddended by the events, Karunanidhi threatened to cancel the Friday function to felicitate him on the Golden Jubilee of his entry into the state assembly and came out with a strong statement condemning the opinion poll and dismissed talk of dynastic politics in DMK.
The survey "Makkal Manasu" (People's Mind) had also resulted in bad blood between DMK and its ally PMK with the poll giving a high rating for Dayanidhi Maran and a low rating for Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.
Newspaper machinery and computers were damaged and window panes smashed in the orgy of violence.
25 people held
Police said 25 people were arrested in connection with the arson and mob violence while one was detained in connection with the deaths. Protests, which were led by Madurai Mayor Thenmozhi Gopinath Madurai, were also reported in other parts of the state like Tuticorin, Tirunelveli, Cumbum and Kamuthi.
Two victims were identified as Gopi(30) and Vinodh(25), both computer engineers. They were asphyxiated when they re-entered the office to save the computers. Fire tenders took more than four hours to douse the flames.
Karunanidhi has voiced his anguish at the violence and is upset that it has come just two days before top UPA leadership were to descend in Chennai to felicitate him for completing 50 years as a legislator. Azhagiri said there was an ulterior motive behind the survey.
No room for dynasty rule: CM
In a late night statement, the Chief Minister said there was no room for dynasty rule in a party like DMK which was a democratic one. Family legacy would not be allowed in the party, he said adding "nobody should make attempts to create rift among the partymen on the basis of opinion polls". Announcing a solatium of Rs two lakh for the families of the three deceased, Karunanidhi said the government would take "firm action" against those responsible for the incident.
"In the name of opinion poll...three lives have been taken away from us", he added.
Kalanidhi Maran, who is the Managing Director of the Sun Network, vowed to fight against both the State and Central Governments till "justice was rendered".
Maran said he was pained by the incident which has taken place during Karunanidhi's regime.
"We fought for this government to come into being and the incident has occurred during this period,"he said.
Referring to Azhagiri's statement that the publishing of the survey ahead of the celebrations of Karunanidhi's 50 years in Assembly has caused bitterness and anguish, he said "death of three employees of the SUN Network is not the solution".
The attack also came in for a sharp condemnation from several media organistions who termed it as an attack on the Freedom of the Press.
Kalanidhi Maran to fight till justice rendered
Describing the attack on the office of Dinakaran as an attack on "freedom of the Press", the Managing Director of the Sun Network Kalanidhi Maran today vowed to fight against both the state and Central Governments till "justice was rendered".
He told reporters here after visiting the Dinakaran office that he was pained by the incident which has taken place during DMK leader M Karunanidhi's regime.
Asked about the complaint by the Dinakaran employees that the police remained "silent spectators" when the mob attacked the office, he said "I stand by the employees' statement".
Referring to Karunanidhi's son M K Azhagiri's statement that publication of the survey ahead of the celebrations of the Chief Minister's 50 years in Assembly "has caused bitterness and anguish," he said "death of three employees of the SUN Network is not the solution".
He said a complaint has been lodged with the police and details of the incident were available with local officials.
Earlier, addressing the employees, he said "we fought for this government to come into being and the incident has occurred during this period. My first visit(here) itself is for a sorrowful occasion".