Chennai, March 5: The death of W.R. Varadarajan continues to haunt the Tamil Nadu CPM with the party today clashing with one-time ally PMK on what caused the senior leaders death.
CPM cadres attacked the office of Makkal TV, the PMKs television channel, for reporting what it claimed was an unsubstantiated news item on Varadarajans death. PMK supporters retaliated with a violent reprisal on the CPMs state headquarters.
Till last years Lok Sabha elections, the CPM and the PMK were part of the alliance stitched together by the ADMK. The PMK is now unattached while the CPM supports the ADMK.
Varadarajan, who was expelled from all party posts by the CPM for alleged marital infidelity, had been missing since February 11 and his death was confirmed ten days later. The body was found in a lake on the fringes of Chennai, leading to the supposition that he had committed suicide.
Makkal TVs news bulletin yesterday alleged that Varadarajan had been murdered by a rival group in the state CPM and his body was flung into the Porur lake.
The report quoted unnamed sources to say that Varadarajan was strangled to death, as borne out by alleged ligature marks on his neck. The Chennai police rebutted the claim this morning, stating that the post-mortem report was not yet ready.
Incensed by the bulletin, over a hundred CPM workers gathered in front of the TV office at Nungambakkam in central Chennai around 11am and raised slogans against the false news.
They then tried to barge in but were prevented by the police, present in large numbers.
This triggered a spell of stone-throwing by the CPM cadres, who damaged the glass panels, the windshield of a car and a computer in the TV station. The police rounded up 92 CPM workers, including two Chennai district secretaries.
Within an hour, around 50 PMK workers led by local councillor Prakash attacked the CPMs state headquarters in T. Nagar. They hurled stones and bricks, broke the windshields of two cars, smashed windowpanes and the glass cover of the portrait of late CPM leader P. Ramamurthi, after whom the complex is named. A few two-wheelers parked inside the compound were also damaged.
The group fled before the police could arrive, but another smaller bunch of PMK men who came later were captured by the CPM cadres and handed over to the police.
CPM state secretary G. Ramakrishnan denied that his party cadres had started the violence. They had only gone to give a representation to the channels editor. The stones were flung from inside the office in which one of our cadres suffered a bleeding injury, he claimed.
Ramakrishnan denied that Varadarajan did not get a fair chance in the enquiry against him. He spoke at length explaining his position at the state and central committee meetings. It is unfortunate that his death is being used to misrepresent facts and tarnish the CPMs image, he said.
PMK leader S. Ramadoss condemned the attack on the TV office as an assault on the freedom of press, but was silent on the retaliation by his cadres.