Tamil Nadu protests, suicides continue as Jayalalithaa languishes in jail

Written by PTI | Chennai | Updated: Oct 1 2014, 02:37am hrs
Two more persons died today in acts of suicide allegedly upset over Jayalalithaa's conviction in an illegal assets case as protests against her conviction continued across Tamil Nadu for the fourth day with Tamil film industry too rallying behind the AIADMK supremo.

With this, the toll of those believed to have died in different parts of the state unable to bear the four-year jail term awarded to Jayalalithaa since September 27 has risen to 18. Ten of them were stated to have died of cardiac arrest.

In the fresh incidents, a 17-year-old girl succumbed to burns at a hospital in Madurai, a day after she set herself ablaze at her house in Ezhumalai while a 35-year-old AIADMK member died after consuming poison in Thondamuthur in Coimbatore, police said.

Rajinikanth, working in an aluminium fabrication unit, had appeared disturbed over the verdict in the past three days and his family members, who had gone to attend a protest by the party, found him lying unconscious with an empty pesticide bottle and photograph of Jayalalithaa by his side last night, police said quoting one of his relatives.

He died without responding to treatment at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital.

In Chennai, a police constable allegedly tried to douse himself with kerosene near the police headquarters apparently upset over Jayalalithaa's conviction, but was overpowered and taken into custody for inquiry, police said.

Rallying behind Jayalalithaa, who herself was an actor in the past, well-known faces of Tamil cinema and small-screen industries took part in a day-long 'silent fast' here.

Many of them, including actor-politician R Sarathkumar, President of South Indian Artistes' Association (SIAA) and an ally of Jayalalithaa, were seen wearing black shirts or sarees while the industry shut down its operations including film shoots and screening in theatres till dusk.

Various bodies of Tamil cinema industry later adopted a resolution saying Jayalalithaa will stage a comeback and assume the post of Chief Minister again.

Top four of Tamil cinema, superstar Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, Ajith and Vijay could not attend the protest as they were stated to be preoccupied with shoots outside the state.

AIADMK men continued with their protests, holding fasts and agitations across the state including in Chennai, Salem, Tiruchirapalli, Cuddalore, Coimbatore and Kancheepuram.

No untoward incident was reported, police said.

Protesters at all venues hailed Jayalalithaa as "people's Chief Minister", a line parroted by the party-backed TV channel, and raised slogans saying she would eventually emerge triumphant.

The protestors sported black badges and cloths over their mouths. In Tiruchirapalli, Karur, Madurai and Dindigul, sections of traders downed shutters.