TN CM gives up fast, DPA leaders launch it

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Chennai, Oct 1 (UNI) In an anti-climax, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi today decided against observing fast, while DMK-led DPA leaders launched a statewide fast on the Sethusamudram issue, even as the state presented a bandh like situation, notwithstanding the Supreme Court order against it.

The statewide fast began at 0900 hrs and ended at 1700 hrs.

Barring few incidents of stone-pelting and a violent attack between volunteers of the ruling DMK and the opposition AIADMK at Mannarkudi in Tiruvarur district, the agitation passed off peacefully in the state, police said.

In the city, the 84-year-old Mr Karunanidhi, who decided against continuing the fast in deference to the wishes of the alliance party leaders, inaugurated the fast near state Guest house, stating that the DMK-led DPA had no option but to observe fast in the wake of Supreme Court staying the bandh.

The Chief Minister, who came to the fasting venue at 0900 hrs, took leave of the alliance party leaders, who expressed concern over his health condition, and left for the Secretariat around 1130 hrs.

DPA leaders, led by DMK General Secretary K Anbazhagan, observed the fast. They included Union Ministers T R Baalu, A Raja, E V K S Elangovan, G K Vasan, TNCC President M Krishnasamy, PMK leader Dr S Ramadoss, and Left leaders N Varadarajan and D Pandian.

At 1700 hrs, DMK treasurer Arcot N Veerasamy offered fruit juice to his octogenarian colleague Mr Anbazhagan and other leaders, marking the end of the fast.

For all practical purposes, a bandh like situation prevailed in the state with shops and commercial establishments downing their shutters and state transport corporation buses and autorickshaws remaining off the roads.

Most of the educational institutions remained closed and banks, central and state government offices functioned with skeleton staff in the absence of public road transport.

The Southern Railway maintained normal services, operating all its suburban and express trains, while air services were disrupted as public sector Indian and other operators cancelled some of the flights.

Barring minor stone-pelting incidents in Coimbatore, the agitation was peaceful througout the state, according to reports received at the police headquarters here.

At Mannarkudi in Thanjavur district, the police opened few rounds of fire in the air to disperse DMK and AIADMK men, who clashed over resuming bus services.

Except this, no other untoward incident was reported in the state, the report said.

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