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Jayalalithaa’s Death Brings Back Horrid Memories of 1987 Riots

Violence during MG Ramachandran’s funeral had left 29 people dead and 47 policemen badly wounded.

Updated
Politics
2 min read
Jayalalithaa’s Death Brings Back Horrid Memories of 1987 Riots

The news of Jayalalithaa passing away brings back the grim memories of the days when her mentor MG Ramachandran (popularly known as MGR) breathed his last in the mid-1980s.

Although their personalities were quite different, there are uncanny similarities between the two as far as the ailing days are concerned.

Like Jayalalithaa, MGR was the sitting Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu when his heath rapidly deteriorated. Like Jayalalithaa, he was re-elected to the CM’s post while his condition was frail.
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Like Jayalalithaa, he suffered a stroke and like hers, his sugar levels complicated his health problems.

Despite the best available treatment in the United States of America, the superstar of Tamil cinema never recovered.

Like Jayalalithaa, his condition worsened in the month of December. The saviour of the poor, who delivered them affordable food, died on 24 December 1987 at 3:30 am at the age of 71.

Riots Across Tamil Nadu

MGR's death sparked riots all over the Dravidian state. Shops, cinemas, buses, public and private properties were targeted by mobs. The situation reached such a level that police had to issue shoot-at-sight orders.

MGR, who was a Malayali born in Sri Lanka, would always fight battle evil in his hit Tamil films. When he entered politics, he carried his reel image to real life. His followers considered him no less than a God. Many could not accept the truth that their supreme leader was no more. Around 30 of his die-hard followers committed suicide after hearing the news!

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Huge, Violent Funeral

MGR's funeral was a show of his huge popularity. Around 10 lakh emotionally charged people participated in his last journey. Violence during the funeral alone left 29 people dead and 47 policemen badly wounded.

The situation was equally tense in smaller towns and villages. Even after the funeral, schools and shops remained shut for almost three weeks. The state of affairs continued to be tense for almost a month across Tamil Nadu.

Janaki vs Jaya

MGR had not chosen his successor. So after his death, his party, AIADMK, split between his wife Janaki Ramachandran and J Jayalalithaa, who was a Rajya Sabha MP at that time.

Later, the two factions merged in 1988 and Jayalalithaa inherited the legacy of MGR.

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No Repeat of 1987 in 2016

After Jayalalithaa won the 2016 elections for the second consecutive time, comparisons are being drawn between her popularity and that of the founder of her party. A glimpse of her popularity was seen when she was convicted by a Bangalore court.

Public property was damaged as AIADMK workers went berserk. That is the reason why the Union Home Minister is monitoring the situation so closely. Nobody wants to see a repeat of 1987 in 2016.

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