Near stampede situation at Rajaji Hall

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CHENNAI, Aug 8 (PTI): A near stampede situation prevailed at the Rajaji Hall where DMK President M Karunanidhi’s mortal remains lay in state as swelling crowds jostled and surged forward to have a last glimpse of him.

Several men and women suffered bruises with some fainting in the melee, police said.

Amid the anxious moments, DMK working president M K Stalin appealed for calm and requested the cadres to peacefully disperse after paying homage.

Even as the crowd began to swell multi-fold by noon, barricades placed by police in the sprawling premises off arterial Anna Salai to regulate crowds were strewn away at several locations.

Efforts by police to regulate the crowd vent in vain as frenzied cadres argued with police personnel seeking to allow them to go forward and pay their homage.

The situation went in for a toss as people tried to reach the main venue from all sides including from the adjacent Government Super-speciality Hospital complex breaching designated entry points.

Commotion heightened when several people tried to take the rear and side pathways by following prominent personalities.

Earlier, thousands of people kept thronging the venue from the wee hours even as a bandh-like situation prevailed in the city and suburbs.

The Tamil Nadu government has announced a local holiday on Wednesday as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi.

All educational institutions, shops, business establishments, fuel outlets remained closed in the city. Cinema theatres have cancelled shows for the day.

Most roads wore a deserted look as state-owned transport corporation operated skeletal services and other public transport vehicles including autorickshaws stayed off roads in the city. Train services, however, operated as usual.

The Koyambedu Vegetable market wore a deserted look as traders decided to close it on the sad occasion.

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