Amid protests in the state against the Centre’s failure to constitute the Cauvery management board, MDMK leader Vaiko’s nephew, Saravana Suresh (50), set himself on fire in Virudhunagar, about 500 km from Chennai, on Friday morning. Police said Suresh left home around 5 am, after informing his wife that he was going for a walk.
“Around 7 am, he was found to have doused himself with kerosene and set himself on fire on an open ground near his house. He was reportedly raising slogans demanding the formation of the Cauvery management board,” said a police officer. Suresh, who suffered 80 per cent burns, was first taken to the Virudhunagar government hospital, and later shifted to a private hospital in Madurai.
While addressing the media at the Madurai hospital, Vaiko broke down and appealed to people not to commit suicide. He said Suresh is the son of his wife Renuka Devi’s elder brother Ramanujam. “He is fighting for his life now,” he said.
While Suresh did not hold any official post in the MDMK, Vaiko said he was actively involved in party work for several years now. He also participated in Vaiko’s recent road march from Madurai to Theni, in protest against the Neutrino project.
On Wednesday night, a 25-year-old vendor, B Dharmalingam, died after he set himself on fire in Erode. Police said Dharmalingam had written on the walls of his house that he opposed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the state. As Modi visited Chennai on Thursday, thousands of protesters marched through the streets, wearing black clothes and waving black flags.
The latest round of protests escalated on April 5, when an estimated one lakh people were arrested across the state at the end of a statewide bandh called by Opposition parties and trade unions.
On April 9, the Supreme Court pulled up the Centre for not sticking to the March 29 deadline on framing a scheme to implement the award for distribution of the river waters between Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Puducherry. The apex court also directed the government to come up with a draft scheme by May 3.
The Centre had earlier cited the assembly elections in Karnataka, and the fear that any announcement on Cauvery may cause “serious law and order problems”, while seeking an extension of the deadline by three months.
On April 10, hundreds of Cauvery protesters briefly took over key roads leading to the venue in a bid to disrupt the first IPL match of this season in the city. Three days ago, all the IPL home matches of the local team, Chennai Super Kings, were moved to Pune.