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'They burnt to death in front of our eyes'

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The incident has it's own tale to tell about politics
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      'They burnt to death in front of our eyes'
                     The All-India Anna Dravida Munnetra
                     Kazhagam has two big shots in Dharmapuri.
                     On February 2, as soon as news of the judgment against
                     his party chief J Jayalalitha reached him, he staged an
                     agitation in Ilakayampatti on the main road.
                     A shopkeeper said that AIADMK cadres started
                     obstructing the traffic. Soon, a few cars, buses and a
                     large number of lorries were stranded. The travellers
                     were walking around, not knowing what to do.
                     Recollects the shopkeeper: "The road became very
                     crowded. I couldn't even go home. I locked up my shop.
                     I knew that something would happen.
                     "The first bus to catch the ire of the partymen was one
                     inside the bus station. They set it on fire. People in
                     bus stand put out the fire and the bus lost only three
                     "The next to come along was one from Palani. The
                     cadres were very angry. They started beating up the
                     driver. Rajendran restrained one boy called Cauvery.
                     The bus driver escaped. But Periyasamy, one in the
                     crowd, egged Cauvery. He said, 'We must do
                     something, buses are still plying'. It was then that
                     ill-fated bus came along," he says.
                     The students of the Coimbatore Agriculture College
                     were returning home when petrol bombs were hurled
                     into the bus.
                     Dharmapuri Police Superintendent P Kandasamy,
                     contrary to what Jayalalitha claims, is certain that
                     culprits belong to the AIADMK.
                     "We have made our enquiries. The bus was set on fire
                     by AIADMK partymen," he says. "The two who hurled
                     the petrol bomb from bikes are Madhu and Nedu. We
                     have mentioned that in the first information report.
                     the 20 accused belong to the AIADMK."
                     Only five have been arrested so far. The rest, the SP
                     says, have fled the district.
                     "We will arrest them," Kandaswamy is confident. "They
                     cannot escape."
                     "This incident has spoilt the name of our village,"
                     another shopkeeper says. "Our village is near this
                     Why don't you come with me? You will see that we do
                     not allow any political party to put up even one flag
                     the village. They are allowed only on this road, in the
                     union office or inside the compound of their own
                     We do not allow political fights within the village,
                     see what they have done now. The entire country has
                     heard about us all for the wrong
                     DMK Councillor Murugan said: "I immediately called
                     the fire brigade. A man had called the local police.
                     there was only the writer and he said, 'There is nobody
                     here, I will inform when they
 come.' "
                     A news reporter said a police jeep with one cop passed
                     by when smoke started coming out of the bus. The
                     students stopped him. His reply was, 'There is no
                     wireless in this jeep I will go and fetch help.'
                     "The cops as usual came after everything was over," the
                     reporter said.
                     The driver of the university bus had stopped the bus
                     under a tamarind tree. Near this tree is an English
                     medium school and a telephone exchange. A few
                     students got down to see what was happening, but about
                     20 girls stayed on board. Scared that somebody would
                     throw stones they closed all windows.
                     Miscreants poured petrol in the front. Two petrol
                     bombs were hurled inside. One landed in the front and
                     the other in the middle. Seeing the smoke the boys ran
                     save their colleagues. A boy working in a teashop by
                     the roadside recollected that people immediately rushed
                     to the bus with buckets of water.
                     "Some girls stumbled out of the front door. But then
                     front portion caught fire badly and they could not come
                     out. Most of the girls inside had fainted because they
                     couldn't breathe. They themselves had closed the
                     "The backdoor was locked. In thepanic nobody thought
                     of keys. A few boys jumped in through the upper portion
                     of the backdoor and started dragging the girls out.
                     brought out quite a few. But they couldn't save these
                     "Due to the smoke the boys were coughing badly. They
                     also looked like they would faint inside. The fire was
                     raging. The boys outside started screaming at these
                     to jump outside or they would be killed themselves.
                     "They jumped out very reluctantly. We were all
                     standing outside. Those three girls burnt to death in
                     front of our eyes," the shopkeeper said, his voice
                     The girls who died have been identified as Hemalatha
                     of Madras, Gayathri of Vridachalam and Kokila of
                     Namakkal. And everything has been photographed and
                     captured on video.
                     You wonder why so many cameras were around. A
                     local journalist gives explains the reason: Rajendran
                     a VIP in the AIADMK. He advertises in the local
                     papers regularly. "So when he calls and says he is
                     leading an agitation we will naturally be there," he
                     Jayalalitha's claim that it wasn't her partymen who
                     responsible for the incident, thus, doesn't cut any
                     An eyewitness adds: "The other girls started getting
                     of the bus immediately, but these three went for their
                     luggage. It is fate that made them do that stupid
                     Yes. Just as it was fate that made two hooligans throw
                     petrol bombs inside.
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