RIP Kalaignar Karunanidhi: Opposition parties back DMK’s demand for burial at Marina

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A massive controversy erupted tonight after the Tamil Nadu government rejected opposition DMKs demand for allotting space on the Marina beach for the burial of its leader M Karunanidhi and offered space near the memorials of former chief ministers C Rajagopalachari and K Kamaraj. Opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Sitaram Yechury and D Raja, besides actor Rajinikanth backed the DMKs demand and urged the government to allot the leader a space on the famed sands. Incidentally, the development came on a day when a PIL filed in the Madras High Court seeking to restrain the Corporation of Greater Chennai from permitting any burial of bodies on the famous Marina Beach was dismissed as withdrawn today. DMK working president M K Stalin, recalling the long public life of Karunanidhi, had written to Chief Minister K Palaniswami seeking space inside the mausoleum complex of the departed leaders mentor C N Annadurai at the Marina. Stalin had also met the chief minister hours before his fathers death. A government statement said it was unable to allot space at Marina beach owing to several pending cases in the Madras High Court and legal complications. Hence, the government is prepared to allot a two-acre site on Sardar Patel Road near the memorials to Rajaji and Kamaraj, it said. Some reports said the government was reluctant about allotting space for Karunanidhis burial at the Marina as he was not a sitting chief minister. Former chief minister M G Ramachandran and his protege J Jayalalitha were buried at the Marina beach and memorials to them were erected there. Both were bitter foes of Karunanidhi in politics. Karunanidhis predecessor Annadurai was also in office when he died. DMK cadres held impromptu protests and engaged in sloganeering demanding a place for Karunanidhis burial at the Marina beach even as minor incidents of violence were reported from some parts of the state. Opposition parties backed the DMKs demand for Karunanidhis burial at the Marina. Congress President Rahul Gandhi said that like the late chief minister J Jayalalithaa, Karunanidhi was an expression of the voice of the Tamil people and that he deserves to be given space on the Marina beach. Like Jayalalitha ji, Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) was an expression of the voice of the Tamil people. That voice deserves to be given space on Marina Beach. I am sure the current leaders of Tamil Nadu will be magnanimous in this time of grief, he said in a tweet. CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury described the denial of burial site at the Marina as unfortunate. This denial of the burial site for Kalaignar is most unfortunate. Thiru (Mr) Karunanidhi deserves his rightful place of rest next to Anna. #Kalaingnar, he said in a tweet. CPI National Secretary D Raja said Karunanidhi should be given a honourable last journey. DMK as a party and Karunanidhis family requested for space in Marina. The state government must deal with the issue in a dignified way, accepting the request, he said. The government, he said, should not create hurdles as it will be a dishonour for such a man. I appeal to the state govt to accept the request of DMK and the family, he added. Tamil film industrys superstar Rajinikanth urged the state government to take all efforts to lay to rest Karunanidhi near the Anna Memorial on Marina. That is the due respect we would be giving to that great man, he said in a tweet. MDMK and PMK also backed DMK. Earlier, a PIL filed in the Madras High Court seeking to restrain the Corporation of Greater Chennai from permitting any burial of bodies on the Marina Beach was dismissed as withdrawn. When the bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Huluvadi G Ramesh and Justice S S Sundar began the days hearings, petitioner V Gandhimathi made an urgent mention and sought permission to withdraw her plea. Recording her submission, the bench dismissed the petition as withdrawn. The petitioner had submitted that the coastal area of Marina was being turned into a burial ground, which not only spoiled the aesthetics but also endangered the ecosystem in and around the beach. She had sought a direction to the Corporation not to permit burials in the area. Despite such consequences, permission was given by the authorities for the burial of former chief ministers like C N Annadurai, M G Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa on the Marina, the petitioner said. If any further burials and resultant construction were allowed at the Marina, it would damage the environment, she had said. A petition was filed in the Madras High Court in July last year seeking a direction for exhumation of the mortal remains of Jayalalithaa and burying them at a place away from the coast. Making the plea, an advocate had also opposed setting up of a memorial to Jayalalithaa at the Marina. In March last year, Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhgaam, a rationalist Dravidian outfit, had also filed a petition in the high court on the issue. It sought to prevent the government from building a memorial to Jayalalithaa at her burial site. In April this year, the Madras High Court had dismissed a batch of five public interest litigation petitions on such matters.