O Panneerselvam could have saved Subasri Ravi, the 23-year-old techie who was run over by a truck in Pallikaranai in Chennai on Thursday afternoon. Because the Tamil Nadu deputy chief minister too had attended the wedding reception function of the son of C Jayagopal, former AIADMK councillor and Kancheerpuram East MGR Wing Assistant Secretary at the JD Thirumana Mahal in Kovilambakkam. He tweeted the photograph (see below) with the couple and Jayagopal on Thursday afternoon, incidentally minutes after Subasri died.
At around 2 pm, it was one of the wedding banners, illegally and precariously erected on the narrow divider of the road that fell on Subasri’s two-wheeler, throwing her under the wheel of the truck that could not swerve away in that split second. Vikram Adityan, who works at a mobile company, was among those who rushed Subasri to the hospital but it was too late.
It is unlikely that while driving to the marriage hall, OPS would not have seen those banners and flexis put up all over the road stretch by his party colleague keen to showcase his political influence and muscle. It is even more unlikely that OPS would not have known of the 2017 order of the Madras High court order banning hoardings of living persons, political parties alongside roads and pavements, obstructing traffic and causing inconvenience to pedestrians.
Yet OPS, the man who once projected himself as a politician with a difference, chose to just bless the couple and drive away. He did not think it fit to point to Jayagopal that he had committed rampant illegality on the entire road stretch outside the marriage venue and that it put lives of motorists at risk.
Adityan says with three marriage halls on this arterial road that connects the Chennai airport with the IT area, flexis and banners are routine. Nothing is done as just about everyone violates the court order with impunity. In this case, the banners sporting Jayalalithaa, OPS and Edappadi Palaniswami photographs and AIADMK flags had been reportedly erected for three days along the entire stretch for the wedding and the reception that were held on separate days. (see pic)
How did the police under the AIADMK government react? It arrested water tanker driver Manoj, charging him with rash driving, endangering life and personal safety of others. With water bodies nearby, scores of water tankers ply on this route. The public perception about such tankers is that they drive rashly but in this case, that prima facie was not the cause of Subasri’s death.
Incidentally, the authorities also sealed Shanmugha Graphics and Stickers shop where the banner had been printed. Faced with public outrage, it is also likely to book a case against Jayagopal. But there has been no word yet from the ruling party, especially Panneerselvam, on whether this will be made a test case and if the AIADMK will ensure no cadre ever puts up an illegal banner in public spaces.
DMK chief MK Stalin has reacted sharply and it is imperative that all political parties promise that their cadre would not be allowed to put up any such banners. He tweeted : “Subasri has died due to negligence of the government, inefficient police officers. Illegal banners have taken yet another life. My deepest condolences to her family. How many more lives will be lost to the power-hungry and anarchist rule?”
Subasri had dreams of moving to Canada for further studies and work as many of her friends are settled abroad. The techie was reportedly returning home from her office when tragedy struck and grounded her for ever.