Two unrelated incidents of death in Kancheepuram created unrest in the temple town on Wednesday. According to reports, locals have alleged police high-handedness in both cases while the police have denied any role in both incidents.
In the first incident, an auto rickshaw driver identified as 35-year-old Kumar immolated himself around 1 pm when the police stopped his vehicle at the barricades placed around the temple. The incident took place when the police stopped his vehicle at a check post in Karukupettai, between Wallajahbad and Kancheepuram.
While traffic arrangements for heavy vehicles have been made in Kancheepuram on account of Athi Varadar festival, local vehicles and auto rickshaw movement was not restricted inside the town. An argument is said to have ensued between the police officer and Kumar, after which the latter was enraged enough to take the extreme step. While the police deny verbal abuse or other extreme behaviour, there is no clarity on what led to the incident.
Reports, however, add that eyewitnesses saw an argument break out between the two parties after which Kumar returned with a can of petrol and immolated himself in front of the police. Kumar succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. Police are investigating the case and looking into CCTV footage to establish the chain of events.
In another incident, 20-year-old Sakthi Akash, a third-year college student from Rajamundry, was rushed to the hospital from Devarajaswamy temple in Kancheepuram for breathlessness. According to The Hindu, while his mother claimed he was assaulted by a woman sub-inspector for clicking pictures inside the temple, senior police officers have said that Sakthi Akash died of a heart attack.
The incident took place inside the temple when a priest reported Sai Akash for clicking pictures of the idol, to a woman sub-inspector who was on duty. While Sai Akashâ€™s mother has alleged that her son fainted after being assaulted by the police, the police state that no such assault took place.
According to the Times of India, a case of unnatural death has been registered and the district superintendent of police Santhosh Hadimani has said that police personnel on duty at the temple were being questioned about the incident.