The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Midnight swoop on Stalin

Chennai, April 10: The DMK faced the state government’s late-night knock for a second time yesterday when M.K. Stalin was whisked off from his Velacherry home after a prolonged procedural wrangle with police.

The cause is said to be the proposed demolition of the 90-year-old Queen Mary’s College to make way for a new secretariat.

Last year, soon after Jayalalithaa was restored to power following a Supreme Court verdict, DMK chief M. Karunanidhi was arrested in a post-midnight operation by the government.

Last night, DMK MLAs K. Ponmudi, J. Anbazhagan and S.A.M. Hussein were also arrested on a complaint by the college principal. The three had gone to the college to provide “moral support” to the striking students.

This morning, about 50 Opposition MLAs were rounded up after protests against the proposed demolition in the Assembly and outside.

In a suo motu statement in the Assembly today, chief minister Jayalalithaa justified the arrests, saying the MLAs and their supporters trespassed into a women’s college after threatening the watchman with “dire consequences” and tried to “instigate” peaceful students.

The police took Stalin and Ponmudi to the metropolitan magistrate’s house in Saidapet, where the magistrate ordered them remanded in police custody till 10 this morning. Stalin and his counsel, however, asked for judicial remand as they had “no trust in the ADMK regime’s police”.

The magistrate then sent them to judicial custody in Madras Central Prison till April 23. Stalin and the others, however, were shifted to Cuddalore jail early this morning because of space constraint.

Stalin had protested to some reporters outside the magistrate’s house that he was not told the grounds for his arrest and the police did not even have a copy of the FIR when the DMK MLAs were produced for remand.

News of Stalin’s arrest for “unheard of reasons” provoked several party leaders, including Vetrichelvan, MP, and MLAs Pitchandi, Thandarampattu Velu and E. Pugazhendhi, to put up road blocks. All were arrested.

Karunanidhi and CPM leader N. Sankariah rushed to the MLAs at the police station. Sensing trouble, the government released the MLAs two hours later.

Karunanidhi dubbed the arrests vendetta and said: “It’s time this government went.”

The Assembly, too, echoed today with the dramatic developments when the entire Opposition, except the BJP and the All India Forward Bloc, pressed for suspension of question hour to discuss the “burning issues”. Speaker K. Kalimuthu rejected the plea.

Court stays Jaya move

Madras High Court today “stayed until further orders” the state government’s proposed move to demolish Queen Mary’s College.

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