The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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By cop’s grace, Stalin ducks blade

Chennai, June 13: Chief minister M. Karunanidhi’s son and heir apparent M.K. Stalin today escaped an assassin’s knife, thanks to an alert constable who spotted the attacker minutes after the DMK leader had stepped off a train in Madurai.

Police sources in the temple city said the Tamil Nadu minister had just got off the Pandiyan Express from Chennai to a rousing welcome and was walking towards his car when the “unknown” attacker crept up from behind.

But the constable, one of the eight CRPF personnel assigned by the Congress-led central government to guard the youth leader, overpowered the man who dropped the knife and melted into the 700-strong crowd in the railway station. The constable suffered cuts on two fingers and was later treated at a local hospital.

The sources said Madurai Railway Police have registered a case of attempt to murder but, till this evening, the attacker, believed to be in his thirties, was still at large.

This is Stalin’s first official visit to Madurai since the DMK’s return to power last month.

The local administration and rural development minister are on a two-day tour of the districts. Stalin is also scheduled to address a public meeting in Nagercoil tomorrow.

He did not realise that he was so close to being knifed. The DMK leader came to know of the attempt only after he reached his car.

“When I alighted from the train here, I felt somebody pulling my shirt from the back. I thought someone, in his eagerness to come close to me had done so. But later I understood that he was wielding a knife.”

Asked why he had been targeted, he said: “I do not know the motive.”

Stalin’s brush with what could have been a fatal attack has come at a place notorious for intra-party rivalries in the DMK. A few years ago, veteran leader and former minister Pasumponn T. Kiruttinan was hacked to death while on a morning stroll.

However, the rival factions had closed ranks during the recent Assembly elections, which saw the DMK-Congress alliance canter home with ease.

The Congress, which supports the Karunanidhi government from outside, condemned the attempt.

In state capital Chennai, legislature party leader D. Sudarshanam and another senior leader, Peter Alphonse, demanded action against the culprit who, they said, symbolised a “new culture of political violence” being “fostered by some anti-social elements” after the DMK’s victory.

“Stalin is the acknowledged second-generation leader in the DMK and his role is much valued with a bright future awaiting him. That his rise cannot be thwarted by the forces of violence was proved by the recent Assembly elections. Stalin needs to be provided adequate security,” a Congress leader said.

Alphonse ruled out intra-party rivalry behind the attack. “Why should there be rivalry now when there was no such thing even during the recent Assembly elections'” he asked.

“We suspect anti-socials, who do not want the new DMK government to settle down, to be behind this attack and we want it to be probed thoroughly.”

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