AIADMK chief J Jayalalitha Thursday alleged a "murderous DMK plot to assassinate" her after the windscreen of her vehicle was damaged in stone pelting by a huge mob gathered at her rally. The police claimed her supporters had thrown stones in frustration after failing to get a better view of their leader.
The trouble arose during her address to a rally on the 101st birth and 46th death anniversary of the late Forward Bloc leader Muthuramalinga Thevar at Pasumpon, a village 500 km south of here.
Upon returning to Chennai in the evening, an angry Jayalalitha lashed out at the ruling DMK. "Chief Minister Karunanidhi obviously masterminded the action of a handful of agent provocateurs amongst hundreds of thousands of my supporters who had gathered to greet me. These mischief-mongers pelted stones on my motorcade, damaging the windscreens of two vehicles, including mine, in an obvious murderous attempt to kill me."
"This conspiracy proves the absence of law and order in Tamil Nadu. Since this has come a day after a pro-LTTE organisation threatened to assassinate me, the signs of a complete breakdown of the constitution in the state are obviously ominous," Jayalalitha added.
Police sources at Pasumpon said they had to make a cane charge and burst teargas shells when the crowds surged forward to take a closer look at Jayalalitha and pelted stones at the police when they moved in to control the crowd.
The police said they ensured that Jayalalitha left the place unharmed. "Action had to be initiated against the unmanageable crowds because of the heightened security concerns following a threat to her life yesterday (Wednesday). Some stones landed on her vehicle damaging its windscreen," a top police official told IANS.
"Four official vehicles were damaged and five policemen injured while some 20 members of the public were hurt. The crowd's anger was only towards the police," the official added.
Checks on vehicles carrying AIADMK supporters in another south Tamil Nadu town, Manamadurai, also led to skirmishes with the police.
AIADMK sources claimed that thousands of its supporters were arrested.
Government sources, however, said that less than 100 opposition supporters were arrested but released in the evening.
Jayalalitha claimed that her cavalcade was attacked in a manner similar to an attempt on the late Indira Gandhi in 1977 in Madurai.
"It should be remembered that the Congress is in alliance with the same party that tried to kill Indira Gandhi in 1977," she recalled.
Meanwhile, the Madras High Court adjourned to Nov 5 hearing on a writ petition filed by the AIADMK seeking extra protection to its leader following a death threat from a pro-LTTE extremist organisation.
Government sources told IANS that Judge M. Jayachandran adjourned the case after the court was informed that adequate protection was already provided to Jayalalitha and that related detailed information would be made available over the weekend.
AIADMK lawyer Navaneethakrishnan informed the court that while the protection was not adequate, Jayalalitha was kept in the dark about the security measures despite repeated reminders.
V Maitreyan, a Rajya Sabha member belonging to the party, demanded additional protection from the centre and met top officials in New Delhi and made a written representation to union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, an AIADMK press release added.