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Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Should public wait to pay homage till VVIPs garland Gandhi statue

In the vast expanse of Marina Beach dotting the Bay of Bengal, there are heritage buildings, Educational Institutions like the Presidency College, Queen Mary’s College and many statues of Tamil poets, freedom fighters  and politicians ~ though this is not exactly the binder, one can say it is from ‘Labour Statue’ opposite Ezhilagam to ‘Gandhi Statue’ opposite to IG Office.  Incidentally,  both were sculpted by Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury.  History has it that whenever, Mahathma Gandhi visited Madras, he used to address big patriotic meeting at Tilakar Ghat.  There are some buildings of which it is claimed that Gandhiji visited them. In fact, Chennai  has one hospital named after the wife of Gandhiji -  Kasturba Mohandas Gandhi situate in Triplicane.  It is known as Gosha hospital, a synonym for the hospital which once catered to  women wearing  purdah.  This hospital was founded in 1885 has rendered 125 years of service for the Women by the Women.

The Gandhi beach opposite to QMC / IG’s office derived its anem from the 12-ft high pedestal unveiled by Jawaharlal Nehru on 14.4.1959, in a function presided over by CM Mr.  K Kamaraj.  This statue was sculpted by Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury.   I had posted about the renovation and reopening to public in Feb 2013.  Read the earlier post here : Gandhi statue at Marina

Gandhi sure attracts visitors and lot pay respect to him…. ~ but the simplicity of Gandhi is tainted by the present day practice…. Can the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the Marina here be cordoned off by not allowing the public to pay homage on January 30 and October 2 until after VVIPs have garlanded it?  This is the valid Q posed by a senior advocate to the Madras High Court in a public interest litigation petition. The petitioner, R.Gandhi (76) of Gandhi Nagar, Adyar has stated that  the police cordoned off the statue from 8 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. on January 30 (Mahatma Gandhi’s death anniversary, Martyrs Day) and October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti) until the Governor and the Chief Minister paid their homage at 10.30 a.m. This year, on Martyrs Day, the police prohibited people from coming anywhere near the statue till the VVIPs left the place.

The advocate said he and Kalyanam, former secretary to Mahatma Gandhi, were there at 8.45 a.m. to pay their respects. But the police officers did not allow them to go near the statue. Only after they insisted and Mr. Kalyanam’s identity was made known, were they allowed. Also, 1,000 children who were dressed like the Mahatma were to march from the Vivekananda House at 8.30 a.m. to the statue and take pictures. But the police informed them that they could come near the statue only after the VVIPs left. Mr.Gandhi said the Chief Ministers of neighbouring Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh moved like ordinary citizens. “It is only in Tamil Nadu, that too for the past 13 years, this sort of exhibition of power is being shown.” This was not a healthy act in a democratic country like India.

He prayed the court for a direction to the Tamil Nadu government not to restrict the public from paying their respects to the Father of the Nation on January 30 and October 2, except for 10 to 15 minutes, during the visit of the Governor and the Chief Minister. The First Bench consisting of the Acting Chief Justice, R.K.Agrawal and Justice M.Sathyanarayanan, on Monday ordered private notice to the authorities on the petition.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

4th June 2013.

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