- Subhashri Ravi worked at an IT company
- A hoarding fell on her while she was riding
- She fell on the road and was run over by a truck
In a bizarre statement, veteran Tamil Nadu politician C Ponnaiyan held the wind responsible for the tragic death of the Chennai software engineer who was killed last month after an illegally erected hoarding fell on her. Speaking to a local television channel, Mr Ponnaiyan claimed the person who erected the billboard could not be held responsible for the woman's death and said “… if anyone has to be booked, it's the wind”. The hoarding had been erected by Jayagopal, a member of the ruling AIADMK, who was arrested three weeks later in Krishnagiri district, some 320 kilometres from Chennai.
In a one-on-one interview with the News 7 Tamil television channel, C Ponnaiyan, a senior member of the ruling AIADMK in the state, was responding to a question about the impact of the young woman's death on the party's image.
“The person who kept the banner did not push her to death. If any case has to be filed, if anyone has to be booked, it's the wind,” he claimed.
On September 12, Subhashri Ravi, 23, who worked at an IT company, was wearing a helmet and driving her two-wheeler down a major city road when an unauthorised life-sized cut-out with pictures of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palanisamy and former Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa fell and knocked her off the bike. Seconds later a water tanker hit the bike and injured her head. She was rushed to a hospital where she was declared dead.
The incident triggered massive outrage across the state, with actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan criticising “half-baked politicians” and the Madras High Court, which had banned political parties from erecting banners and hoardings, taking the government to task, demanding to know “how many more litres of blood” would be shed before the state took action over illegal hoardings.
However, on Thursday the court allowed as many as 30 banners to be erected to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping to an informal summit in Mamallapuram, a historic town some 60 kilometres from Chennai. The court argued there was a distinction between the Government of India and political parties.
Continuing his remarks to News 7 Tamil, Mr Ponnaiyan, a four-time MLA, defended the AIADMK against comments made by MK Stalin, the DMK chief and Leader of Opposition in the state who criticised the AIADMK over the young woman's death.
"People know MK Stalin lies about this and exaggerates. Let the case go to the Supreme Court. Let them decide. Judge would know countless banners up since Karunanidhi's days,” he told the channel, adding, “Banner is one of the forms of communication”.
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.
With input from PTI