Political hoarding turns death trap

Chennai: The death of a 22-year-old girl Subashri in a road accident in Chennai caused by a falling flex banner erected by an AIADMK functionary for his son's wedding, caused widespread outrage in Tamil Nadu.

On Friday, the Madras High Court ordered payment of Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the girl's family; the money is to be recovered from officials who failed to prevent the installation of the illegal banner by the AIADMK man Jayagopal.

Following an outpouring of angry public sentiment, AIADMK and DMK leaders issued statements urging cadres not to install such flex banners. Deputy Chief Minister O Pannerselvam had attended the wedding of Jayagopal's son on Thursday.

Subashri, an engineering graduate, was riding her bike when a banner erected on the road median fell on her, taking her by surprise. As her vehicle skidded, she fell on the road and came under the wheels of a water tanker and was crushed to death. She was the only daughter of her parents.

Angered over the incident, a bench of Justices M. Sathyanarayanan and N. Seshasayee, asked “how many more litres of human blood” do the bureaucrats expect the roads to be painted with before they crack down on illegal banners.

The court had in the past repeatedly asked officials to remove illegal hoardings, a popular political culture since the days of Jayalalithaa during 1991-96 in Tamil Nadu. Even back then, there were instances of people dying after giant cut-outs erected to please her had come crashing down on the road.

“Is this the value that the life of a citizen has in this country? Why are bureaucrats so insensitive,” the agitated judges asked. “There is zero respect for lives in this country. It is sheer bureaucratic apathy. Sorry to say that we, or at least I, have lost faith in the government,” the judges said in open court.

By Dravida Thambi

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