Chennai: A near stampede situation prevailed at the Rajaji Hall where DMK President M Karunanidhi’s mortal remains lay in state, as swelling crowds jostled and surged forward to have a last glimpse of him.

Several men and women suffered bruises with some fainting in the melee, police said. Amid the anxious moments, DMK working president M K Stalin appealed for calm and requested cadres to peacefully disperse after paying homage.

Even as the crowd began to swell by noon, barricades placed by the police in the premises off arterial Anna Salai to regulate crowds were strewn away at several locations. Frenzied cadres argued with police personnel to allow them to pay their homage. The situation went in for a toss as people tried to reach the main venue from all sides, including from the adjacent government super-speciality hospital complex, breaching designated entry points. Earlier, thousands of people thronged the venue from the wee hours even as a bandh-like situation prevailed in the city and suburbs.

The Tamil Nadu government announced a local holiday on Wednesday as a mark of respect to Karunanidhi. All educational institutions, shops, business establishments, fuel outlets remained closed in the city. Cinema theatres have cancelled shows for the day. Most roads wore a deserted look as state-owned transport corporation operated skeletal services and other public transport vehicles, including autorickshaws, stayed off roads in the city. Train services, however, operated as usual.

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