- An illegal AIADMK hoarding fell on Subashree Ravi on September 12
- She fell off her scooty due to the impact and was hit by a water tanker
- Jayagopal was arrested at Krishnagiri district over the illegal hoardings
A local leader of the AIADMK has been arrested for allegedly putting up party hoardings, one of which fell on a 23-year-old software engineer in Chennai, leading to her death. Subashree Ravi was passing by in her scooty on September 12 when the illegal hoarding fell on her. The force of the impact threw her on the ground, following which she was hit by a water tanker.
Jayagopal, a local leader of Tamil Nadu's ruling AIADMK, was arrested at Krishnagiri district, 320 km from Chennai, for installing the illegal hoardings, Chennai Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan told NDTV. The incident had triggered massive outrage across the state.
The hoardings, which had pictures of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami, his deputy O Panneerselvam and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa, were put on the median allegedly by Jayagopal. He reportedly installed the illegal hoarding for a family wedding, where Mr Panneerselvam was in attendance hours before the incident.
The driver of the tanker has been arrested. Chennai's civic body has sealed the press that allegedly printed the hoarding. The police initially filed a case of disfigurement of public property and made the tanker driver the main accused. A local magistrate, however, filed a case of murder after a public outcry.
A day after the incident, the AIADMK had put up hundreds of party flags along Marina Beach Road to welcome Mr Palaniswami. The Madras High Court then criticised the state government and directed the police to launch disciplinary action against officers who did not stop hoarding installation. The court told the government to pay Rs 5 lakg relief to the techie's family and also collected the money from officers who allowed the hoarding to be installed.
"How many litres of blood you need? Government officials look like blood suckers. Lives are lost due to irresponsible officers. There is zero respect for lives," the court had said.
A state minister said the government is not shielding the accused. "We've filed an FIR, the press (to print hoardings) has been shut down... We are very concerned. No way one can escape," Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said.
The AIADMK and its main opposition party, the DMK, have asked their workers to stop installing banners and hoardings after the incident.
The DMK has criticised the state government and the police over the young woman's death. "Illegal hoarding placed due to government apathy, irresponsibility of authorities and the police's incompetence has taken away Subhasri Ravi's life. How many lives are to be sacrificed for these atrocities due to the arrogance of power," DMK chief MK Stalin tweeted in Tamil.
Mr Stalin told his party workers that he will not participate in any function if banners or hoardings are put up.
Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan blamed "government apathy" and "half-baked politicians" for the death of the 23-year-old techie. He said as the father of two girls, he could feel the pain of the woman's parents, he said. "Many Subhashrees and Raghus have been killed due to this government apathy," Mr Haasan said in a video.
In November 2017, a 30-year-old software engineer back home in Tamil Nadu's Coimbatore from the US to meet a prospective bride died when his motorcycle crashed into a temporary wooden hoarding. It was set up on the road by the ruling AIADMK for its MGR centenary celebrations.
The Madras High Court in October 2017 had banned hoardings at public places.