Protests continue in TN over Jayalalithaa's conviction

A girl who attempted self-immolation allegedly upset over the four-year jail term of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa in an illegal assets case succumbed to burns on Tuesday as protests against her conviction continued across Tamil Nadu for the fourth straight day with the Tamil cinema industry too rallying behind the former chief minister.

Chennai: A girl who attempted self-immolation allegedly upset over the four-year jail term of AIADMK chief J Jayalalithaa in an illegal assets case succumbed to burns on Tuesday as protests against her conviction continued across Tamil Nadu for the fourth straight day with the Tamil cinema industry too rallying behind the former chief minister.

The 17-year old girl, who was battling for life at a government hospital at Madurai after setting herself ablaze in her house at Ezhumalai, died without responding to treatment today, a day after she took the extreme step, police said.

With her death, the toll of those believed to have died in different parts of the state unable to bear the four-year jail term awarded to the AIADMK supremo on Sept 27 has risen to 17.

Ten of them were stated to have died of cardiac arrest.

In Chennai, a police constable allegedly tried to douse himself with kerosene near the police headquarters apparently upset over Jayalalithaa's conviction, but was overpowered and taken into custody for inquiry, police said.

Rallying behind Jayalalithaa, who herself was an actor in the past, well-known faces of Tamil cinema and small-screen industries took part in a day-long 'silent fast' here.

Many of them, including actor-politician R Sarathkumar, President of South Indian Artistes' Association (SIAA) and an ally of Jayalalithaa, were seen wearing black shirts or sarees while the industry shut down its operations including film shoots and screening in theatres till dusk.

Various bodies of Tamil cinema industry later adopted a resolution saying Jayalalithaa will stage a comeback and assume the post of Chief Minister again.

However, the top four of Tamil cinema, superstar Rajnikanth, Kamal Hassan, Ajith and Vijay could not make it to the protest as they were stated to be preoccupied with shoots outside the state.

AIADMK men continued with their protests, holding fasts and agitations across the state including in Chennai, Salem, Tiruchirapalli, Cuddalore, Coimbatore and Kancheepuram.

No untoward incident was reported, police said.

Protesters at all venues hailed Jayalalithaa as the "people's Chief Minister", a line parroted by the party-backed TV channel, and raised slogans saying she would eventually emerge triumphant.

The protestors sported black badges and cloths over their mouths. In Tiruchirapalli, Karur, Madurai and Dindigul, sections of traders downed shutters.

Special prayers were held in scores of temples, including the famous "Rockfort" Lord Ganesha temple in Tiruchirapalli. Prayers were also organised in churches.

Fishermen from Rameswaram and neighbouring areas boycotted fishing indefinitely from today, while in Nagapattinam shops remained closed. However, autorickshaws and buses plied and educational institutions also functioned in most places.

In Tiruvarur, assembly constituency of DMK Chief M Karunanidhi, shops remained closed. Officials said most shops in the district were closed.

In Virudhachalam advocates boycotted courts, demanding the release of the former Chief Minister. Shops in several places in Villipuram district also remained closed.

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