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Minister quits over burial row

Chennai, Aug. 27: Tamil Nadu minister for housing and urban development C. Durairaj, who was recently a mute witness to a child-burial ritual in a village near Madurai, today resigned from the Jayalalithaa Cabinet, even as the chief minister is in New Delhi to attend the meeting of the Cauvery River Authority.

“I believe my participation in the child-burial ritual at the festival in the Muthukuzhi Amman temple at Perayaiur on August 21 has brought a bad name to Puratchi Thalaivi Amma and to the Tamil Nadu government. Hence, I am immediately tendering my resignation,” Durairaj said.

It is not known whether Durairaj had informed Jayalalithaa before taking the decision. The minister, however, said he will submit his resignation to the chief minister when she returns from New Delhi on Wednesday. “I will continue to be a loyal worker of the party and a true disciple of Amma for ever,” Durairaj said.

The situation was apparently becoming difficult for the housing minister. Opposition parties, led by the state units of the CPM and the Congress, demanded that Durairaj be sacked for taking part in a “barbaric practice” though the more than 100 children who were buried in pits were pulled out to safety after less than a minute.

The National Human Rights Commission has also issued a notice to the state government seeking a report on the episode in the temple in the Sedapatti Assembly segment from where Durairaj was elected last year. At a full commission meeting in New Delhi yesterday, headed by chairman J.S. Verma, the panel took cognisance of the incident and asked the Tamil Nadu chief secretary to submit a report within four weeks.

State social welfare minister B. Valarmathi also discussed the incident at a meeting with senior officials of her department here today.

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