TN This Week: Polling for Local Bodies Mostly Peaceful, UNI Journalist Dies in Chennai Office
Image credit: Prakash R
The single phase direct elections for the urban local bodies in Tamil Nadu on February 19 were by and large peaceful. The Election Commission announced that 60.70% of 2.50 crore eligible voters cast their votes for 12,500 ward members in 640 plus urban local bodies.
The votes will be counted on February 22.
In a significant move, the Tamil Nadu Government on February 18 added a clause banning harassment of LGBTQIA+ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual] community. The state has become the first one in India to do so. The amendment followed the Madras High Court judgement delivered in June last year.
In one of the several such incidents of firecracker accident deaths, a 27-year-old man died in an explosion while manufacturing firecrackers illegally at a house in Madurai on February 15.
The state has issued an order to reconstitute the Commission for Women. Apart from the chairperson, the Commission has seven members including two women MLAs. Women’s rights activists have criticised the order for not including any field activists in the Commission.
NewsClick brings you a round-up of the activities this week.
A FEW HITCHES ON POLL DAY
The run-up to the polls was eventful with innovative election campaigns and the voting day witnessed a few hitches.
Clashes erupted between DMK and AIADMK cadres in a few places over allegations of foul play. State election commission officials hinted repolling would be considered in some of them.
A polling agent of the BJP was arrested for objecting to a woman wearing a hijab at a polling booth in Madurai.
A number of incidents involving cash for votes, donations, and other forms of cash flow were reported. The seizures by the flying squads crossed Rs 10 crores.
Both the DMK and AIADMK took action against party functionaries in various districts for filing nomination as rebels against party or alliance candidates. AIADMK expelled 16 members and the DMK suspended more than 50 functionaries.
Chennai recorded a low voter turnout of 43.59%, compared to other districts. The turnout was recorded at 59.61% at Coimbatore, 70.65% at Dindugal, 60.66% in Tirupur, 57.09% at Madurai, 68.03% in Ramnad and 80.49% at Dharmapuri.
UNI JOURNALIST DIES IN OFFICE
T Kumar, 56, a veteran photojournalist and the bureau manager of United News of India (UNI), died by suicide in the news agency’s Chennai’s office on February 13. He had been working with the news agency for the past 30 years.
The UNI is allegedly not paying its employees their dues regularly and Kumar had a heavy backlog of 60-month salary. The UNI has claimed it was a “mismanagement”.
IIT-M STUDENT SUICIDE CASE
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) that probed the death of IIT-Madras student Fathima Latheef has concluded that the student committed suicide. In its final report, the agency said that the girl had some psychological issues and that she took the extreme step due to homesickness, and ruled out the possibility of mental harassment.
Fathima Latheef from Kollam had joined IIT-Madras in the humanities stream in July 2019. She was found dead in her room in the Sarayu hostel on the campus on November 9, 2019.
A special investigation team of the Tamil Nadu police was constituted to probe her death after her family complained that she was driven to suicide.
33 ABVP MEMBERS UNDER REMAND
Three days after 32 Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) students were remanded in custody for breaching security and attempting to lay siege to the chief minister’s residence in Chennai, a fresh case of cheating was registered against 12 of them as they had given false addresses to the magistrate court.
ABVP activists held a protest outside CM MK Stalin's residence demanding quick redressal in the Lavanya suicide case. They, 36 of them, were remanded to 14 days of judicial custody, three were released on account of being minors
POWER LOOM UNITS END STRIKE
Power loom units in Tirupur ended their strike on February 16 after 38 days following an agreement reached with master weavers over revision in wages.
After several rounds of talks, the master weavers agreed to pay a 15% hike for the Palladam variety of fabric and 19%t for others. Workers were expecting more than 20% hike as per the previous agreement.
More than 2.50 lakh power loom units, which churn out two crore metres of fabric worth Rs 100 crore on a daily basis in Coimbatore and Tirupur districts, went on a strike since January 9. Over five lakh people are dependent on the power loom sector for their livelihood.
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