The demise of former Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa has created a void not only in state politics, but at the national level too. Politics and politicians in southern India have been more about icons than most other parts of the country. With cult figures like MG Ramachandran, M Karunanidhi, NT Rama Rao, among few others, Jayalalithaa’s stature was equally larger-than-life as it was of someone who was connected to the masses.
Owing to her cult status, once news of her death was announced, there was widespread concern regarding the state of law and order that could be disrupted. But nothing of the sort happened. Thousands of police personnel manned the streets day and night to make sure everything was in order, and even Amma’s last journey was carried out smoothly – with respect. That she kept the state police to task was a well-documented fact, so it’s not as surprising that a slew of stories erupted from that quarter after she passed away.
On the one hand, we had thousands working tirelessly, doing their duty – something that hasn’t got entirely unnoticed by the social media, with people sharing photos and instances online. According to journalist Jarshad Kakkrakandy, The Hindu’s canteen even served up meals for the cops, while R Velmurugan, head constable at Odapatti police station in Theni district, reportedly quit his job to construct a temple for Jayalalithaa.
In a Facebook post, Amit Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Crime and Traffic), Tirunelveli City, wrote a heart-felt account of Amma’s dealing with the force and the impact she had on people. Recounting various anecdotes, he started, “Ma’am Jayalalitha was one of those few people who are feared, loved and respected in equal measure. She was imperious enough to make people tremble at the thought of incurring her wrath. But when one came in her presence, the thing one noticed most was her aura and charisma. She liked order and discipline. Possibly the reason the police department was one of her favourites.”
He goes on to add that “(a)ny TN cop will bear testimony to the fact that she walked the talk… For ‘police’ was Amma’s department. If any of her party cadre was acting wayward, all one needed to say was a report on his activities would be sent to the CM. That was more than enough to set things right. In case it wasn’t and a report was sent, that person would invariably find himself expelled from the party.”
From recounting stories of Jayalalithaa’s dealings during police proceedings to interesting insights into her pet peeve of people not speaking Tamil correctly and correcting them when they didn’t provides a peek into the various facets of the popular leader. The post goes on to talk about the time following Amma’s death and how the department worked during those days, ending with a tribute to her.
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