Pondy govt cancels function for M.O.H.F.Shahjahan


March 11 2002

The Pondicherry Dept of Education, which was to open the Rs 80 lakh building to house a girls high school at Lawspet today, postponed the function following a protest by local Congress legislator M O H F Shah Jahan that the function be put off as he was away in Delhi.

There was also a message from the MLA to C. M. Rangaswamy from Delhi that when he was not informed of the function and when his name was included in the invitation without his consent, it would be a sad commentary on the legislator and in violation of the convention that any function should be held by associating the local legislator.

Shah Jahan said the govt itself had sponsored him along with other legislators for an orientation programme in Delhi which would be over on March 13.

He requested the Chief Minister Rangasamy to put off the function.

Team to nab Imam Ali


March 11 2002

Considering that Imam Ali, who escaped from custody at Tirumangalam near Madurai on March 7, is a `hardcore' militant, the Tamil Nadu Police have formed a special team to track him down.

Headed by a Superintendent of Police P. Thamaraikannan, and consisting of half-a-dozen officers, who dealt with cases relating to fundamentalism in the past, the team is part of the intensified efforts at nabbing Imam Ali, a senior police officer told.

Besides Karnataka and Kerala which were already alerted, a nation-wide general alert has been sounded, particularly in the wake of the situation arising out of the Ayodhya .

The special police team would be under the control of the CB-CID's Special Investigation Team, which is probing the case pertaining to the escape of the two prisoners. It would be a coordinated search by the special group and the Madurai city police for Imam Ali.

"Meanwhile, in a swift operation, the Madurai district police have secured Jahabar Sadiq Ali, a close confidant and relative of Imam Ali. He served as a conduit of information between the militant and his associates."

Claiming that all efforts were being made to nab Imam Ali, the officer said the police did not have ``any definite information that he had escaped to another State''.

Not much reliable information about his whereabouts was obtained by questioning Hyder Ali, who escaped with Imam Ali but was recaptured at Sivaganga. The officer said the car in which the two were travelling broke down en route. Following this, they were believed to have separated, with Imam Ali fleeing in an autorickshaw with the associates who helped in their escape, and Hyder Ali taking a different route. It was here the biggest obstacle to police emerged. ``By the time the police located the autorickshaw driver, a precious two hours had been lost''.

But the police do not seem to be taking chances. With a view to pre-empting any possible move by the fugitive to escape to another State, the Railway police were put on alert. Several `mufti parties' were also stationed at railway stations.

Following anonymous information, the police this afternoon stopped the Nagercoil-Mumbai Express at Dindigul and checked the train. But the call proved a hoax.

Tamil nadu C.M Jaya names Lawyer Jothi,Tamilselvan,S.P.M.Syed khan for RajiyaSaba seat


March 11 2002

In what appeared an expression of personal gratitude, the Chief Minister and AIADMK general secretary, Jayalalithaa, today named her lawyer, N. Jothi, party candidate for the Rajya Sabha election.

Mr. Jothi handled the TANSI and many cases in which she was acquitted by the Madras High Court.

The AIADMK Theni district secretary, Thanga Tamizhselvan, who vacated his Andipatti Assembly seat for Ms. Jayalalithaa, also figured in the list of four nominees.

Another prominent name is the newly-appointed parliamentary board member, S.P.M. Syed Khan, who was earlier a functionary in Theni district, of which the Andipatti constituency is a segment.

The fourth nominee is C. Perumal, Dharmapuri district Jayalalithaa Peravai secretary.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Maanila Congress president, G.K. Vasan, filed four sets of nominations before the returning officer, V. Rajaraman. Apart from senior TMC functionaries, including S.R. Balasubramaniam, Peter Alphonse and Jayanthi Natarajan, he was accompanied by the TNCC president, E.V.K.S. Elangovan, the Congress Legislature Party leader, D. Yasodha, the CPI (M) MLA, J. Hemachandran, and the CPI MLA, G. Palanichamy.

Mr. Vasan later told reporters that he had the ``requisite numbers'' to win the Rajya Sabha election. Altogether 40 MLAs proposed his name. (He needs the support of only 34 MLAs.)

The Congress appeared keen on putting up a show of solidarity and strength on the occasion. Several former TNCC presidents, K.V. Thangabalu, Kumari Ananthan, and Tindivanam Ramamurthy, were present.

Dissidents in the TMC, who are opposed to the party's anti-AIADMK line, too put in an appearance.

The DMK candidate, R. Shanmughasundaram, filed his papers before Mr. Rajaraman. Those who proposed his name included the DMK president, M. Karunanidhi, the general secretary, K. Anbazhagan, the BJP leader, K.N. Lakshmanan, the Dalit Panthers of India general secretary, R. Tirumavalavan and the Congress Jananayaga Peravai member, B. Ranganathan.

'Kannagi statue to come up after court verdict'


March 12 2002

Putting to rest all speculation about the fate that befell the Kannagi Statue that was removed from the Chennai beachfront a couple of months ago, Chief Minister Jayalalithaa today announced in the State Assembly that the government was awaiting the court verdict on the issue and as soon as the verdit came through, the statue will be reinstalled in a place specified by the court.

Intervening in DMK MLA Parithi Ilamvazhuthi ' s speech during the motion of thanks to the Governor ' s address, the Chief Minister also denied that the police were lethargic in finding out the whereabouts of missing former DMK MLA M K Balan and said the Opposition was blowing the issue of proportion.

During his speech, Ilamvazhuthi drew attention to the 15-point-programme by the government as outlined in the Governor ' s address and said, though the programme promised a lot of securities, it did not promise security for life. '

A lot of disappearances had been reported in the State during recent times, he said and cited as examples the case of the misssing ex-legislator, the carnivore-at-large that had kept the Vandalur zoo authorities guessing for a long time and the Kannagi Statue.

' If the police force is capable of apprehending the terrorist Imam Ali within two days of his giving the police the slip, why does it take them so long to find the whereabouts of M K Balan? ' , he sought to know.

In her reply, the Chief Minister said the DMK legislator was giving wrong details. While the government awaited the court verdict on the Kannagi statue issue, it was also not true that a lion had escaped from Vandalur zoo.

' Only a panther from outside had entered the zoo premises and it has been captured ' , she pointed out. At this juncture, leader of the Opposition, K Anbhazhagan intervened in the discussion and said though M K Balan ' s family had filed complaints with the police many times, he still had not been traced.

' The police are not showing enough commitment in tracing him ' , he said. To this, Jayalalithaa categorically asserted that the police did not display a lethargic attitude in the matter.

' There is no such thing as a 100 per cent success rate in detecting crimes ' , she said. Balan ' s name had been cited as a possible candidate for the Saidapet by-polls and his disappearance could be a ' family trouble ' , she said, in a fallback to Finance Minister C Ponnaiyan ' s earlier statement that the missing ex-MLA ' s case could be one of ' trouble within the family. '

This was strongly objected to by K Anbhazhagan who said the Chief Minister was giving a wrong interpretation to a just demand. ' No harm should befall Balan and he should be restored safely to his family ' , he said.

Intervening once again, Jayalalithaa reiterated that the police was not lethargic in the matter. ' I wonder if, like the instance in which the DMK itself masterminded the attack on their Chepauk constituency office and made a big issue out of it, they themselves made Balan disappear and are now blowing it out of proportion ' , she further said.

To this, K Anbhazhagan replied that the DMK was not accusing anybody and only desired that the real culprits who attacked the DMK office were apprehended.

' We will not indulge in cheap gimmicks like breaking our own office ' , he asserted. At this point, Mylapore BJP MLA K N Lakshmanan intervened to say that Balan was from his constituency and his family had tearfully complained to him many times and still the ex-legislator was missing. He also expressed the hope that Balan be traced soon. '

Bandh in Ariyalur over merger move


March 12 2002

A partial bandh was observed in parts of Ariyalur district yesterday to protest the State government ' s move to merge it with Perambalur district. Shops remained closed for the second day while most buses stayed off the roads.

Over 27 people, including a few DMK men, were arrested as a preventive measure. Black flags were also flown on top of a few houses. Various organisations like the Ariyalur District Traders Association, and Tamizhar Viduthalai Iyakkam have threatened to step up agitations if the govt did not give up the merger move immediately.

It may be recalled here that Governor P S Ramamohan Rao, in his address to the State Assembly recently, had said that Ariyalur district will be merged with Perambalur and the new entity will be headquartered in Perambalur.