4 killed, several hurt in stampede at Rajaji Hall

4 killed, several hurt in stampede at Rajaji Hall

DMK workers mourn the death of their Party chief M Karunanidhi at Rajaji Hall, in Chennai on Wednesday, Aug. 08, 2018. Karunanidhi died yesterday after a prolonged illness. PTI Photo

Four persons, including a woman, died on Wednesday in the stampede at the Rajaji Hall, where DMK chief M Karunanidhi’s mortal remains were kept for public viewing. Several others suffered bruises with some fainting in the melee.

Durai, Shenbhagam, Saravanan and another person, who is yet to be identified, died in the stampede, police said. The stampede took place at around 11 am on Wednesday when there was a sudden rush among mourners to take a last look at Karunanidhi.

The crowd management at Rajaji Hall was bad, according to the cadre, who also accuse police of not controlling the mourners and disciplining them.

Amid anxious moments, DMK working president M K Stalin appealed for calm and requested the cadres to peacefully disperse after paying homage.

 Even as the crowd began to swell multi-fold by noon, barricades placed by police in the sprawling premises off arterial Anna Salai to regulate crowds were strewn away at several locations.

 Efforts by police to regulate the crowd went in vain as frenzied cadres argued with police personnel seeking to allow them to go forward and pay their homage. 

The situation went in for a toss as people tried to reach the main venue from all sides including from the adjacent Government Super-speciality Hospital complex breaching designated entry points. Commotion heightened when several people tried to take the rear and side pathways by following prominent personalities. 

All roads in Chennai only led to Rajaji Hall – where DMK chief M Karunanidhi lay in state for nearly 12 hours on Wednesday. From 5-year-old to 80-year-old – men and women alike – walked miles together to have a last glimpse at the leader, who is credited for ensuring social justice in Tamil Nadu.

As buses kept off the roads and auto rickshaws also refusing to ply on the roads, people took suburban trains, mass rapid transit system and metro trains to reach the nearest spot and walked all the way to Rajaji Hall.

DMK flag and pictures of Karunanidhi could be seen everywhere in Chennai as the city shut down to pay its tribute to one of the tallest leaders that the Dravidian movement produced. Parking lots at the Chintadripet MRTS station were teeming with vehicles as several people parked their two and four wheelers and set out to reach Rajaji Hall.

“I came all the way from Tiruvannamalai district to pay my respects to my Thalaivar. He will live in our hearts forever,” Arunachalam, who walked six kilometres to reach the Rajaji Hall, told DH.

“Will I not be able to see Karunanidhi taatha (grandfather), again?” These words of a young girl moved everyone as she held a picture of the departed leader.

Women, especially children of young age, could also be seen in and around Rajaji Hall, where the arrangements for people to pay respects were not done properly.

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