The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Bus passengers burn in Ram’s name
- CM shrugs off attacks

Sept. 19: The row over Ram spilt blood last night with two persons being burnt alive in a Bangalore bus, but M. Karunanidhi said he had no regrets about questioning the existence of the exiled prince.

A mob of 50-60 people, allegedly angered by the Tamil Nadu chief minister’s remarks on who Ram was, flagged down the Chennai-bound bus, ordered some 26 passengers out and hurled petrol bombs at it.

As the bus went up in flames at Bomanahalli on Bangalore’s outskirts, two persons possibly asleep inside got charred. The miscreants left in the mini-truck they came in, leaving shocked onlookers to call police.

The attack on the bus came two hours after the 7.45pm strike on the Bangalore home of Karunanidhi’s daughter Selvi. Some youths threw stones and petrol bombs at the house, damaging the gate, front door and windowpanes.

The bus that was attacked. (Bangalore News Photos)

Selvi and her husband Murasoli Selvam, who heads Sun TV’s regional channel Udaya TV, were away in Chennai. A domestic help and a security guard locked themselves in.

The watchman said the youths, between 20 and 30 years, raised anti-Karunanidhi slogans. The police said a letter lashing out at the chief minister’s comments had been found in the porch of the house.

Karunanidhi, who puts up at Selvi’s place on his annual visits to Bangalore, said he did not rue his words and reiterated what he had said about Ram on Sunday.

“There is no historical evidence of the existence of Ram or that he had any engineering expertise to be able to build a bridge and this is what I had said,” he said in Chennai.

Karunanidhi had initially made the remarks in the context of the “Ram setu” row stirred by the government affidavit that said no “incontrovertible” proof exists about Ram’s existence. The affidavit has been withdrawn.

“Is there anything wrong in what I said' In fact, Valmiki has written a lot more things about Ram which we have not spoken about.”

Taking a jab at protests by Hindutva groups without naming any, he continued: “There is a crowd that badly underrates that people can have different views.”

Karunanidhi said he was not surprised by the attack on Selvi’s house but expressed sympathy for the families of the two victims of the bus attack.

“Ram bhakts have shown through such incidents what their culture is. But I am not the type to be cowed by violence unleashed against my family.”

He said some people were making a “mountain out of a molehill” and scouting for the littlest of reasons to stall the Sethusamudram ship canal project. He would press the UPA government to go ahead with it, he added.

Over 22 people have been taken into custody in connection with the bus attack. The police suspect that fringe groups of the Sangh parivar are behind the attack.

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