Ragu was killed in Coimbatore in November 2017. Nothing has changed close to two years later, except for the victim and location. Today Subhasree lost her life in Chennai. Modus operandi – the same.
Subasri, a 23-year-old B.Tech student was crushed to death when she was riding on her two-wheeler and lost balance when the banner erected by an AIADMK functionary, former councillor C Jayagopal, for his family function fell on her. The accident occurred at around 2:30 pm when she was returning home after her exam. A truck coming behind her could not swerve in time and its wheel ran over Subhasri. The incident happened in Pallikaranai.
This is precisely what happened to Ragupati. He was on a visit to hometown Coimbatore from the US to meet his prospective bride and was riding a bike to the bus stop. He planned to board a bus to travel to the pilgrim town of Palani, 120 km from Coimbatore, for darshan. A lorry was driving towards Ragu in the wrong direction and to avoid it, Ragu swerved to the left. What he did not notice in the darkness was the wooden hoarding structure that had been erected on orders from the AIADMK more than a week ahead of a MGR centenary event.
The rickety wooden structure had occupied 40 per cent of road space, had no reflectors to alert approaching bikers and motorists. Ragu crashed against the structure, fell on the road and was run over by the lorry.
A couple of years ago, the Madras High court had declared that banners of any sort occupying public spaces especially roads were illegal. Yet this is an order conveniently ignored by the banner-crazy political activists. Today’s banner celebrating a family function had no business to be erected on the road.
The Chennai police have arrested the truck driver. That’s nonsense. The accident did not occur due to rash driving but because he could not react in a split second. It would be a travesty of justice if the driver, who already must be traumatised at the death, has to pay the penalty for no fault of his.
Would the Madras High court take cognisance of the murder and book the AIADMK leader and set an example. This cutout culture has to be banned and just like the hefty fines under the Motor Vehicles Act, big fines imposed on anyone who erects a cutout or banner of this sort.
Am I hopeful something will happen? No. Because in Ragu’s case, AIADMK supporters suggested Ragu was drunk while he was riding the bike. Some others suggested that he died because he was run over by the truck and it had nothing to do with the hoarding.
The political class should wake up now. It has been notorious about flouting the rule against such banners with impunity, especially the ruling party. Let Tamil Nadu chief minister Edappadi Palaniswami lead by example. Let him crack the whip on such political defaulters. Ask the police to book cases instead of feeling happy by the show of sycophancy. Let leaders, cutting across party lines, refuse to grace events where such banners are put up, let them go back from the gate if they spots any such banners. Make an issue of it.
Subasri should not have died. Just like Ragu should not have. We owe it to make roads safe.