Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the "haphazard banner culture", a day after the Tamil Nadu government moved the Madras High Court seeking permission to erect banners citing the scheduled meeting between the PM and Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mahabalipuram, outside Chennai, later this month.
Reminding the PM about the recent death of 23-year-old techie Subashree, who was knocked down by an illegal hoarding put up by an AIADMK functionary and hit by a water tanker, Kamal Haasan tweeted, "While Tamil Nadu and Tamilians are struggling to cope up with the loss of Subashree's death, the Tamil Nadu Government has approached the courts to obtain permission to erect your banners."
The Madras High Court has banned erection of banners and hoardings following a series of tragedies that had led to loss of lives. In 2017, another young techie Raghu, who had returned from the US, was killed in Coimbatore after his motorbike rammed a giant arch put up by the AIADMK across the highway.
Last month, the court had held officials responsible for the loss of Subhashree's life for failing to remove those structures. The court had asked, "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. Will people attend events only if there are banners?"
Following a direction by the court, Chief Minister EK Palaniswami and Leader of Opposition MK Stalin too appealed to party cadre to not erect banners, cut outs and hoardings.
Today, Kamal Haasan appealed to the Prime Minister to take a lead. He said, "If you act as a pioneer in taking the first step to put an end to this haphazard banner culture, it will reflect your concern towards the sentiments of Thamizhians, and that in itself will garner you the greatest publicity possible".
The Tamil Nadu government's move has triggered anger among activists who spearhead the campaign against banners. Traffic Ramaswamy, a veteran social activist on whose petition the court had issued the ban, plans to file an affidavit on Thursday opposing the government move.
He told NDTV, "First of all it's wrong for the state Municipal Administration Department of the Tamil Nadu government to file a plea on behalf of the Union Government. Doesn't the centre have a counsel? Besides there is no rule to exempt a government from a ban. I would oppose."
The opposition DMK is yet to respond.