Chennai Police have arrested eight members of Thanthai Periyar Dravidar Kazhagam in connection with the early-morning attack that was attempted at Thuglak Magazine Editor, Chartered Accountant Gurumurthy’s Mylapore residence. According to the Police, around nine members had approached the residence of Gurumurthy on two-wheelers, with the alleged intention of hurling a petrol bomb.
The attackers had arrived in front of Gurumurthy’s residence at around 3am on Sunday, but were forced to flee after hurling two bottles into the premises, as a guard dog had alerted the cops guarding the residence, following which the nine bike-borne assailants fled on five bikes. AN on-duty police personnel had also chased the attackers as they fled from the scene, but it went in vain.
On Monday morning, Gurumurthy had tweeted about the attempted attack, “Lessons for the attackers. One, They must know I have been facing threats for 30 years. Theirs is not new to me. Two, they need better training and more courage. The current story goes back to the arrest of Police Fakruddin in 2013 who confessed he had been caught before he could shoot me. He had done recce at home and office. The police then insisted I must have a gunman with me and advised us to install CCTV cameras at home and office”
He also stated that there was a break-in attempt at his residence in March 2014, when masked assailants tried to break their house doors, while trying to gain entry into the residence in the wee hours.
“As our lifestyle doesn't allow rearing a dog, one of my long-standing friends started sending a dog with its guard everyday between 10pm and 5am. This has been happening for 5 years now. It is that dog that alerted the security and made the miscreants attack impossible” Gurumurthy tweeted about the thwarted incident.
While attack attempts targeted at Gurumurthy aren’t new, Sunday’s incident should be seen in the light of Thuglak’s 50th Anniversary event where Rajinikanth had spoken on social reformed Periyar.
Periyar's influence looms large over Tamil Nadu's politics as both dominant parties the DMK and AIADMK have followed the path of the Dravidian leader.
Rajini had lauded the magazine's founder late Cho Ramaswamy for having carried a cover story of a 1971 rally in Salem, that was led by Periyar himself. Rajini stated that Thuglak was the only magazine to carry the story on the incident where pictures of Lord Ram and Sita were displayed in the nude and garlanded with slippers while being paraded.
He said the Tamil magazine was the only one to cover this event, adding that the founder Cho Ramaswamy had condemned this. “This brought a bad name to the ruling DMK who did not want the magazine to be circulated,” Rajinikanth said. “The issue was seized by the government but Cho reprinted it and the magazine was sold in black. What was sold for Rs 10, was then sold for Rs 50 and Rs 60.”
Even after threats of protests and police complaints from the fringe groups, Rajinikanth had politely stated that he would not apologize for his comments as he had spoken based on news articles that he came across, regarding the 1971 incident.
Rajini's comments did not go well with major political leaders of the state. DMK President MK Stalin said that the actor has to think and speak. "Rajinikanth is not a politician, he is an actor. Please think and speak about Periyar. I appeal to you. Periyar lived for 95 years, working for the Tamil race".
AIADMK Co-coordinator and Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said that he wouldn't be where he is, if not for Periyar. Another AIADMK leader to come out against Rajini's statement was Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar, who condemned the actor's statement. Jayakumar called it an unwanted issue, adding that nothing had happened the way Rajini had described it."Why is Rajini diverting people by speaking something that didn't happen? This issue is from around 50 years ago, and one shouldn't play cheap politics over it. There are so many issues to be talked about and we shouldn't remain in the past."
When asked about BJP leaders expressing support for Rajini's statement, while the leaders of the AIADMK (which is an ally of the BJP) are disapproving his comments, Jayakumar said that ideology has to be looked at separately from political alliances. "We accept Periyar, Anna, MGR and Jayalalithaa as our leaders and will not accept it if anyone speaks in a manner that degrades them. Periyar had been a rationalist and did not believe in God, but Anna believed in One Race, One God. Our way is that of Anna."
Tamil Nadu Congress Chief K.S. Alagiri issued a statement condemning Rajini's speech. "Rajini has said that he will foray into politics but still hasnt done so, in this stage it was unnecessary for him to have made such a statement about Periyar who had dedicated his life and championed the cause of social-justice in Tamil Nadu."
Alagiri's 'friendly advise' for Rajini was, "Actor Rajinikanth can be whichever way he prefers to be and you have the rights to be so. But please don't fall prey to the agenda of evil, sectarian forces."