AIADMK supporters stoned vehicles and burnt government buses across Tamil Nadu after the Bangalore special court convicted Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on Saturday.
There was massive police deployment in sensitive areas in Chennai and several other towns and cities after dozens of effigies of DMK leaders M Karunanidhi and M K Stalin were burnt.
Governor K Rosaiah met with DGP K Ramanujam, home secretary Apurva Varma and Chennai police commissioner S George in the evening. “The Governor discussed the deteriorating law and order situation with officials and asked to take immediate measures to prevent any violence,” Raj Bhavan said in a statement.
Most shops and commercial establishments in T Nagar, and shopping malls across Chennai shut immediately after violence broke out in the city. Most theatres cancelled film shows.
AIADMK supporters assaulted reporters outside Poes Garden, the residence of Jayalalithaa. A television cameraman was injured, and cameras and equipment were damaged.
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Protesters pelted stones at the residence of Subramanian Swamy, who filed the petition against Jayalalithaa in 1997. DMK cadres celebrating the verdict clashed with AIADMK supporters near Karunanidhi’s residence at Gopalapuram in the city. Several DMK offices across the state were attacked, said a police officer.
The office of former union minister and DMK leader A Raja was attacked in Perambalur.
A senior official of the State Express Transport Corporation (SETC) said buses were being taken off many routes. “Two buses have been set on fire and at least 25 buses damaged across the state. Many buses were attacked at Ambattur near Chennai, Cuddalore and Salem,” he said.
Police sources said several shops in Tiruchirappalli and Dindigul had been ransacked by mobs.
A tense calm had prevailed in Chennai through the morning, as the city waited for the verdict in Bangalore. Hundreds of supporters from both the AIADMK and DMK had gathered at their respective party headquarters, equally sure that the judgment would be in their favour.
Effigies of DMK chief M Karunanidhi were kept ready for burning at the AIADMK office, while at the DMK’s office, sweets were distributed in advance celebration of Jayalalithaa’s expected conviction.
Through the morning, several cities including Coimbatore, Salem and Tutircorin reported frequent power cuts. By evening, once power supply returned to normal, people realised their cable TV connections had been cut too. AIADMK cadres patrolled Chennai on SUVs through the afternoon, shutting down shops and public places where people had gathered.
Hundreds of women gathered at the AIADMK headquarters had no doubt their Amma would emerge unscathed from the case. The daylong dancing and singing changed abruptly to tears soon after TV channels broke the news around 4 pm.
“She is being sent to jail for something that she did 18 years ago. This is not fair,” Thamarai, a familiar face at the AIADMK office, said.
At Poes Garden, a supporter of the Chief Minister attempted to immolate himself. Police and party cadres rushed in before he could do himself any harm.
Jaya’s conviction in the Pleasant Stay Hotel case in 2000 had triggered violence across the state, and claimed the lives of three women students of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University after a mob set their bus on fire near Dharmapuri.