Two persons lost their lives and more than 30 people sustained injuries in a stampede outside Rajaji Hall where thousands of DMK supporters have gathered to pay their last respects to M Karunanidhi.
According to media reports, minor scuffles broke out between the supporters of the late leader and the police following which the police resorted to lathicharge to manage the emotionally charged crowd.
DMK’s working chief and Karunanidhi’s son MK Stalin appealed to the people to remain calm after the reports of scuffle surfaced.
DMK chief Karunanidhi, 94, died at a private hospital in Chennai on Tuesday following a prolonged illness.
Several political leaders including Prime Minister Narendra Modia and Congress president Rahul Gandhi paid tributes to Karunanidhi at the Rajaji Hall on Wednesday.
PM Modi, who flew from Delhi in a special plane, led a host of dignitaries from politics, cinema and various other fields to pay respect to the late DMK president after laying a wreath on the body.
After going around the casket in which the body was kept, the Prime Minister patted M.K. Stalin, Karunanidhi’s son and political heir, and his daughter Kanimozhi, an MP, and comforted them with words of solace.
Rahul Gandhi also flew down to Chennai and paid tributes to Karunanidhi.
Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, Telangana CM K Chandrasekhar Rao, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat, former chief ministers of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh, Oommen Chandy and Akilesh Yadav respectively, among other leaders paid homage to the departed leader.
Kerala Governor P Sathasivam accompanied Vijayan and Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala.
DMK cadres and people belonging to all ages cried their eyes out in recognition of their leader’s service to the poor and oppressed with pioneering welfare schemes. Thousands of police personnel deployed near Rajaji Hall had a difficult time keeping the crowds under check.
Karunanidhi’s body was brought to Rajaji Hall early on Wednesday after it was kept at Gopalapuram and in the house of Kanimozhi for public to pay homage.
The funeral procession of Karunanidhi will start at 4 pm today and he will be laid to rest at Marina near the Anna memorial.
A party statement said the procession would begin from Rajaji Hall, where his mortal remains are kept for public homage, by 4 p.m, and proceed through Sivananda Road and Thanthai Periyar Road to reach Anna Square.
He would be buried adjacent to mausoleum of former Chief Minister and his mentor C N Annadurai on the sands of Marina, it said.
“Party supporters and public are requested to stay calm during the procession and pay their respects to the unparallelled leader,” it said.
The golden casket in which the mortal remains of Karunanidhi would be laid to rest will have the engraving in Tamil, “Oivu edukamal uzhaithavan, idho oivu eduthu kondu irukiran, meaning “one who worked hard without taking rest, is resting in peace here”.
Meanwhile, preparations were on in full swing at Marina beach for the burial of the departed DMK patriarch.
(With agency inputs)