DMK members bundled out of council, one hospitalised

CHENNAI OCT. 31. DMK councillors protesting against a white paper on the alleged violations in Open Space Reservation (OSR) land in the party headquarters, Anna Arivalayam, tabled at the Chennai Corporation council meeting on Thursday were ordered to be removed by the Deputy Mayor, `Karate' R.Thiagarajan. Two councillors, P.T.Sivaji and M.Subramanian, were suspended for the day.

Trouble erupted when the DMK councillors found fault with the report and questioned the veracity of the claims. The two-page report, which briefly traced the history of the land, concluded that the OSR provided by the DMK Charitable Trust in front of the Anna Arivalayam was not maintained as a public park as required by an earlier G.O.

The DMK members insisted on the withdrawal of the `hastily prepared report' after it became evident that the civic officials had not undertaken any `on-the-spot' inspection of the premises. They said the report was `politically-motivated' and questioned the sudden interest in the issue when the responsibility of recovering OSR land in case of violation, if any, was with the CMDA.

Proceedings of the council plunged into acrimony when Mr. Thiagarajan turned down a request to withdraw the report. The DMK members tore the copies of the white paper, and led by Zone IX chairman, M.Subramanian, P.T.Sivaji and P.V.Kalyanasundaram, raised slogans demanding the recall of the report.

Later, Mr.Thiagarajan ordered the watch and ward staff to evict the DMK councillors, justifying his action as a measure to maintain the decorum of the meeting.

Several councillors were literally bundled out of the Corporation Council hall. Situation threatened to take a nasty turn when one of the constables of the Vigilance Cell climbed atop a table to force the DMK member, P.T.Sivaji, out of the hall. He was eventually bundled out but was later admitted to the Government General Hospital for dislocation of his arm.

"The DMK Trust has not received notification for any inspection so far. How did the Corporation officials conclude that the OSR was violated and file the report," Mr. Kalyanasundaram asked.

A similar query raised by him inside the council hall also did not elicit a response from the Corporation officials. The Commissioner, M.Kalaivanan, said the `white paper' had been tabled to keep up a promise made in the previous meeting. But he did not discount the apprehensions of Mr. Kalyanasundaram or the other DMK councillors that the real status would be known only after an `on-the-spot' inspection.

Meanwhile, the BJP floor leader, P.S.S.Dhanushkodi pointed out that the report did not carry signatures of any officials and wondered how it could be construed to be an authoritative statement. "The DMK has already said it was willing to face any legal consequence in the case. What is the fuss about tabling the report," he asked.

Even while the watch and ward staff carried out the eviction, Mr.Thiagarajan reminded the DMK councillors that he was removed in a similar fashion during the previous council, based on the orders of the former Mayor, M.K.Stalin. "When they evicted me during the previous council, was it democratic? If so, why are you terming it undemocratic now? The report will be sent to the State Government and they will decide the future course of action," he said.

The evicted councillors then staged a sit-in protest on the lawn of the Ripon Buildings before dispersing after 30 minutes.

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