Schools join Jaya verdict protests

Party starts campaign on WhatsApp.

Written by Johnson T A , Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published: October 6, 2014 12:29:42 am
AIADMK supporters protest against J Jayalalithaa’s conviction in Coimbatore Sunday.  Source: PTI AIADMK supporters protest against J Jayalalithaa’s conviction in Coimbatore Sunday. Source: PTI

With protests erupting across Tamil Nadu against the conviction of J Jayalalithaa in a corruption case, an association of private schools on Sunday announced that their institutions will remained closed on Tuesday in solidarity with the former Chief Minister.

While the association call-ed for closure of all private sch-ools in the state, many schools took an opposite stand, making attendance on Tuesday compulsory. For instance, the Sacred Heart Matriculation Higher Secondary School here sent messages to parents that it reopens on October 7 and attendance was compulsory.

An association of college managements under the Anna University, Coimbatore, also announced closure of their institutions Tuesday in support of Jayalalithaa, who was sentenced to four years in jail in the disproportionate assets case.

Meanwhile, the IT wing of AIADMK has launched a massive WhatsApp campaign in support of ‘Amma’. The campaign sends out lakhs of messages every day with the help of more than 3,000 SIM cards and a computer algorithm, which was used by the party in the last LS polls. One of the coordinators of the party’s IT wing said the messages are being sent from SIM cards located in different parts of the country. “Otherwise, we are allowed to send only 100 messages through WhatsApp. So we have devised a computer programme through which we can send any number of messages at a time,” he said.

The messages are carefully drafted so as not antagonize those who are not party sympathisers. They are sent during peak hours, between noon and 3 pm and 6 pm and 9 pm, considering the behavioural patterns of Indian WhatsApp users. “To avoid interruptions on phone data networks due to massive data transferring, origin of 3,000 SIM cards are set at different locations in the country,” said a party’s IT volunteer.

While AIADMK had spent several lakhs for a similar campaign during polls with a budget allocation from the party, the expenditure in this campaign is yet to be revealed. Experts say it may run to several lakhs. “Amma will rise, like the phoenix!” says one WhatsApp sticker.

According to party sources, the brain behind the campaign is Aspire K Swaminathan, an Amma sympathiser and owner of leading online education firm, Aspire.

Jayalalithaa sympathisers are also organising special prayers at temples, churches and mosques across the state seeking divine intervention on her bail plea. Organisers said a special prayer session will be organised at Quaide Millath Jumma Masjid here on Monday. “Over 3,000 people will attend the prayer at 7 am. It is part of the usual Bakrid prayers, and we are praying for Amma too,” said an organiser.

The state has yet again turned a ground for a loud and extensive poster campaign. Last time such posters were put out was after the video footage capturing the last moments of Balachandran, the 12-year-old son of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabhakaran in March 2013, was released.

The posters condemn the court verdict and express solidarity with Jayalalithaa. One such poster, put up by the Tamil Nadu Liquor Drinkers’ Awareness Forum on Saturday, read: “Amma, Don’t worry. You will come back to the Kottai (Fort St. George) soon.” Five hundred such posters were displayed by the forum. Posters that personally attack judge John Michael Cunha have also come up across the state.

Despite his flip-flop, prosecutor claims credit in Jaya case


Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh. Source: Kashif Masood Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh. Source: Kashif Masood

A Special Public Prosecutor Bhavani Singh is for all official purposes the man instrumental in obtaining the four-year-jail sentence against former Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa in a disproportional assets case. This despite the fact that Singh was accused of working in the interest of the Tamil Nadu CM rather than the prosecution.

The first official announcement to television cameras on September 27 of Jayalalithaa’s prison sentence and arrest were made by Singh, who had repeatedly changed colours in the course of the case. Over the past few days he has reportedly been claiming to have fought the case without any help from the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption — the prosecuting agency.

Singh’s controversial role has been surmised in the final verdict. “Learned Spl. P.P. merely read out the chief-examination of the prosecution witnesses and summed up his arguments,’’ Special Judge John Michael Cunha noted in his judgment.

Singh’s appointment came after B V Acharya, a former Karnataka advocate general, appointed by the Chief Justice of Karnataka resigned.

With no great legal credentials to Singh’s name, his appointment came as a surprise. Singh’s name was in fact not among four given to the then acting chief justice of Karnataka K Sreedhar Rao by the BJP government.

An official of the opposition DMK in Tamil Nadu K Anbazhagan approached the special court in August 2013 and accused Singh of working in the interest of the accused rather than the prosecution.

In March this year, the special court imposed a fine of Rs 60,000 on Bhavani Singh for every day of delay he caused in the trial.

The Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption of the Tamil Nadu government has appointed Bhavani Singh again as the SPP to fight the appeals filed by Jayalalithaa and others.

However, in the end the credit for effectively prosecuting the case against Jayalalithaa lies with the original SPP B V Acharya, the assistant prosecutor who completed the arguments Murugesh Maradi and the special judge John Michael Cunha who fast tracked the case and meticulously sought out evidence.

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