Normal life came to a gradual halt across the central region on Tuesday evening as members of the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and the general public mourned the death of the party leader and former Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi.
It took some time for the news to sink in, but soon traders in Gandhi Market and other commercial areas of the city starting downing shutters. There was a rush initially on the streets and roads in Tiruchi as people rushed to head back home as the news of Karunanidhi’s death was flashed in television news channels. However, some of the petrol bunks in the city functioned till late in the evening.
The Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation and private operators started withdrawing bus services, both town buses and long distance ones, gradually at the end of trips leaving many people stranded at the Chathram and Central Bus Stands in the city and bus stands at major towns across Central districts. Buses, which reached their destination, headed back to their depots.
The normally busy Chathram Bus Stand wore a deserted look by 7.30 p.m. with many passengers waiting for buses. People rushed to board a few buses that passed by. “I got the news late only after finishing my work. I rushed to Chathram bus stand to catch a bus to reach home at Tirupainjeeli. But there seems to be no bus now. Don’t know how I will reach home. I have sought the help of my engineer,” said Vaithilingam, a construction worker, who commutes to the city daily from the village near Tiruchi.
However, TNSTC officials at Chathram Bus Stand and elsewhere in the city said that arrangements were being made to send such stranded passengers to neighbouring villages through mofussil buses. While the New Bus Stand in Thanjavur town wore a deserted look, only sparse services were being operated out of Old Bus Stand by TNSTC. Some of the passengers belonging to nearby rural places said they had been waiting for long for the buses.
“I sent my workers to their homes by hiring a few autorickshaws for their safety,” Marimuthu, proprietor of a garment shop near the Old Bus Stand, said.
A group of youth carrying DMK flags went around the bazaar area in Tiruchi asking shops that remained open to shut down.
Party cadre rushed in to buy portraits and flex banners of Karunanidhi as groups of peoples put up his decorated portraits at street corners along Big Bazaar Street.
Some of the grieving residents were literally in tears. “I have been in the party for 45 years and I am shaken to the core. None can fill the void created by his death, at least not in my life time,” said Amir Bhai, who runs a portrait framing shop at Big Bazaar Street in Tiruchi.
As party men rushed to his shop, with shutters half closed, to buy portraits of Karunanidhi, Amir Bhai stood proudly besides a picture taken with his leader.
Meanwhile, police stepped up security across the Central Zone. Police personnel were deployed at vantage spots including bus stands and business hotspots.
Inspector General of Police, Central Zone, V. Varadaraju toldThe Hinduthat no violent incident had been reported anywhere in the zone.
All six companies of Tamil Nadu Special Police at Tiruchi, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam were being utilised to augment manpower strength for bandobust duty, Mr. Varadaraju said.
No violent incident has been reported anywhere in the zone. All six companies of Tamil Nadu Special Police at Tiruchi, Perambalur, Ariyalur, Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur and Nagapattinam are being utilised for bandobast duty
V. Varadaraju,Inspector General of Police, Central Zone
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