Chennai: Arterial roads in Chennai were blocked and traffic was diverted in many places for close to four hours today as DMK cadres poured out all over Tamil Nadu to court arrest as part of the opposition party's jail bharo or fill jails protest against what it calls the AIADMK's "repressive regime" and "political vendetta." Senior party leaders and about 50,000 DMK workers protested outside government offices in the state. Party MP Kanimozhi was the show-stealer. The arrested cadres were later released on Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.
Here are 10 big developments on this story:
- DMK chief M Karunanidhi's son MK Stalin and daughter Kanimozhi led the brigade and were among the first ones to court arrest. Kanimozhi, in a bright red sari, smiled and waved as she was led away in a bus by policewomen.
- Kanimozhi, who is out on bail in the 2G case, had taken permission of the court to join the agitation from Saidapet. Stalin, who is the party treasurer, courted arrest in his constituency Kolathur.
- Speaking after courting arrest, Kanimozhi blamed the AIADMK for "indulging in vindictive politics from day one". "This is DMK's answer to AIADMK's vendetta politics. DMK leaders are being arrested without any proof. This is not a moment for soul searching by DMK. This is time for soul searching by the public and the press," she said. (Blog: Kanimozhi steals the show)
- Other senior leaders also courted arrest in 22 locations in Chennai. Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran courted arrest outside Chennai's Ezhilagam. Those arrested have been taken to various college grounds and marriage halls since city prisons are already overcrowded. Kanimozhi has been taken to the YMCA College of Physical Education. They are all expected to be released by this evening.(Live Blog)
- Mr Karunanidhi, who is 89 and did not participate in the protests, has reportedly instructed all party leaders not to seek bail when they are arrested.
- Traffic was thrown asunder for close to four hours. Three arterial roads - Panagal Building in Saidapet that connects the Airport and Guindy Industrial estate to Mount Road, the DMS complex almost in the heart of Mount Road and the Ezhilagam and War Memorial along Radhakrishnan Road or the Marina Beach Road - were blocked from 9 am till noon. Traffic movement is however slowly resuming to normal here now. Traffic was also diverted at Chennai's Kamarajar Road, Greenways Road and RA Puram. Traffic disruptions were also reported from Arcot Road, Rangarajapuram and Nandanam.
- Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, the main target of the DMK's ire, is not in Chennai. She is away at her Kodanad estate near Ooty.
- Mr Karunanidhi said yesterday, "The "fill the jails" protest will be held in a great manner ... we are confident about it. The government is also confident about that." He added that around 50,000 party members had agreed to participate in the agitation that is being held to condemn the continuing arrests of former DMK ministers and other party members.
- The last two years have been turbulent for the DMK. It lost the Assembly elections, key leaders like A Raja and Kanimozhi were put behind bars in the 2G case, and ever since the J Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK took over, many senior DMK leaders and hundreds of party workers have been put in jail on land grab charges.
- The ruling AIADMK government denies the allegation of political vendetta made by the DMK and claims that all arrests have been made on the basis of genuine complaints.