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DMK cadres on cloud nine

By K. Ramachandran

CHENNAI, JULY 4. When Mr. M. Karunanidhi uttered his famous catch phrase ``En Uyirinum melaana anbu udanpirappugale'' (my beloved brethren who are dearer to me than my life) at 5.30 p.m. today outside the Chennai Central Prison, it was more than mere rhetoric.

For the hundreds of DMK loyalists, who thronged the prison gates, it was a heartfelt response from a leader who spent four days in prison.

As he was brought out in a wheelchair, the mood of the cadres and family members waiting outside the prison transformed dramatically from despondency to delirious joy. And the change of mood, during the five-hour build-up since the Government's announcement of Mr. Karunanidhi's release came about around noon, was quite visible.

Immediately after the announcement, the party cadres and leaders started arriving at the prison gates, where dozens of mediapersons had been keeping a vigil over the past four days.

According to his advocate, Mr. P. Wilson, Mr. Karunanidhi indicated to the jail authorities that he was willing to come out, but only after seeing the government order.

During the two-hour wait for the court orders to arrive (the release had to be conveyed to the remand court), there was a palpable change in the atmosphere. The entire Stanley viaduct from Pallavan Salai upto the gates was sealed from the Anna Salai end. On the bridge and near the gates, a large posse of policemen was stationed.

Many DMK men and women, kept raising slogans denouncing the Chief Minister, Ms. Jayalalithaa, the police and the City Police Commissioner, Mr. K. Muthukaruppan.

By 5.15 p.m., after the court order arrived, Mr. Karunanidhi emerged from the prison gate. For several minutes, the crowds standing outside turned uncontrollably joyous. Family members milled around the tired man and helped him into his Sumo jeep.

Mr. Karunanidhi's vehicle took a full 10 minutes near the gate, as TV cameramen jostled for space, seeking to get a `byte' for him, even as the crowds continued to cheer. Then the convoy came out, as a microphone emerged from somewhere. The DMK supremo told the partymen ``I have come out after four days... as you know, not out of anyone's kindness to me... I am now going to my Gopalapuram residence and then I will meet the Press at Arivalayam (party headquarters)'', he said before the convoy left.

The leader's car was followed by vehicles of his family members and Mr. Murasoli Maran's family. Everyone looked tired but extremely happy, as they kept waving to the crowds on both sides of the road. Mr. M.K. Azhagiri, Mr. Karunanidhi's Madurai-based son was also present.

The convoy reached Mr. Karunanidhi's Gopalapuram residence around 5.50 p.m., where other family members and well- wishers, clung around him. The exhausted leader went into the house and spent about an hour with his immediate family members.

Top party leaders, besides a BJP delegation led by the Union Minister, Mr. Pon Radhakrishnan, State leaders, Mr. K.N. Lakshmanan and Mr. L. Ganesan, visited him.

According to family members, Mr. Karunanidhi's blood pressure level remained high. ``He had a snack and he will come back to his regular diet immediately'', they said.

At 6.50 p.m., Mr. Karuananidhi again emerged from the house, dressed in a fresh shirt and dhoti and sporting a yellow shawl. He got into his jeep along with Mr. Maran and his doctor and drove away to the party headquarters.

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