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Mysterious death, martyr and Thaipusam

FOR the week of 9 to 15 Feb, the Tamil papers highlighted the inquiry into the death of an actress; K Muthukumaran’s martyrdom; and the incidents during Thaipusam.

Death of an actress

The inquest into the death of local Tamil drama actress K Sujatha, 29, made headlines in Malaysia Nanban and Makkal Osai.

Sujatha (Source:
Tamil Nesan, a paper aligned to Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu, gave very little coverage to the news as Sujatha was romantically linked to Maika Holdings CEO S Vel Paari, who is Samy Vellu’s son. She was also Vel Paari’s personal secretary.

Malaysia Nanban‘s write-up on the back page on 14 Feb under the headline Inquest set for March 16 highlighted the puzzling issues surrounding her death. “Did she commit suicide, or was she, as some parties have alleged, murdered? What was the reason that drove this up-and-coming actress to suicide?

“Sujatha lived in a luxurious condominium on Jalan Ipoh. After she consumed poison, why was she not sent to the nearest hospital, which is the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital, but was instead taken to a much further hospital in Klang? Why was there no autopsy done on her body?” the paper asked.

Makkal Osai‘s report on the same day was titled Well-known television drama actress Sujatha’s death: Inquest from 16 March for three days, announces Kuala Lumpur Magistrate Court. It highlighted Kapar MP S Manikavasagam’s role in the matter: “Manikavasagam has insisted that Vel Paari was linked to Sujatha’s death and should be questioned.”


There seems to be no end to the fascination of Tamilians, especially those in Tamil Nadu, of the self-immolation of K Muthukumaran. He has become a powerful symbol for the people to rally and raise support for Sri Lankan Tamils. Several other men in Tamil Nadu have immolated themselves following Muthukumaran’s action.

Tamil Nesan‘s report titled Muthukumaran’s name in Tamil films on 14 Feb said the Tamil film fraternity has also jumped on the bandwagon. In Chennai, the influential Producers and Directors Council held a memorial for him, where major personalities from Tamil cinema spoke in hyperbolic terms on Muthukumaran’s sacrifice.

Bharathiraja (Public domain; source: Wikipedia)
Respected Tamil film director Bharathiraja said Muthukumaran was “equivalent to a million Tamil Tigers. All Tamil films released this year should have the good characters in the movies named after Muthukumaran. All movies should also have a tribute to his memory at the beginning of the film.”

Tamil Nesan reported that Sarath Kumar, a popular movie star and leader of political party Agila India Samathuva Makkal Katchi, called for an end to such fiery deaths.

He pleaded with the people of Tamil Nadu not to become so emotional over the plight of Sri Lankan Tamils that they “throw reason to the wind and end up making tragic decisions like self-immolating … we need to have hope and belief that our struggle will bring liberation to the Tamilians in Sri Lanka who are tied to us in Tami Nadu by the umbilical cord.”

Thaipusam pomp and tragedy

All the Tamil papers continued to carry stories of the Thaipusam celebrations. On 10 Feb, all the papers frontpaged the Thaipusam celebrations in Batu Caves.

The back pages were devoted to pictures of people and kavadis. Waves of devotees at Batu Caves was the headline of Makkal Osai, while Malaysia Nanban‘s headline read Blessed to see such sights. The papers happily noted that the number of kavadis and devotees had increased all over the country.

(© beggs / Flickr)

However, the Tamil press were also critical of some emerging trends within the celebrations. One such trend that irked Malaysia Nanban was reported in its headline on 12 Feb, English Premier League kavadis during Thaipusam?. The report criticised some devotees for carrying kavadis that had the logo of football teams such as Manchester United and Liverpool.

This incident happened at the Waterfall Hilltop Murugan Temple in Penang. It described such kavadis as “insulting the Hindu religion and subjecting it to ridicule. The temple committee that allowed such kavadis to be part of the celebration must be severely reprimanded for this lapse in judgement.”

Malaysia Nanban also took the lead in highlighting the violence that reared its ugly head during Thaipusam. The headlines on its two front-page stories on 11 Feb read Clashes between Indian gangs. Inspector who went to stop the fight attacked, and Jelapang Paneer who came to see Thaipusam chariot procession slashed to death.

On the same day, also on the front page, the paper highlighted an accident in Batu Caves. Limestone rock falls, Divya Latha fractures her leg, read the headline. The paper reported that 16-year-old K Divya Latha Nayar was standing in a location where the limestone rock broke off from the roof of the cave and fell on her leg.

The accident resulted in her undergoing a five-hour operation. Her mother, P Thilagavathy, put on a brave face: “I am relieved the rock did not fall on her head but on her leg instead. She only had a fracture and nothing worse happened to her. For this, I am thankful to God.”

On the same day, Tamil Nesan chose to highlight the gruesome murder of S Paneer on its front page. Deputy president of Karthikayn temple Paneer slashed to death, read its headline.

The paper detailed the murde of the 37-year-old. Paneer was also the Buntong Lima MIC deputy president and the head of the Ipoh branch of the Malaysian Indian Youth Association. The paper reported that he was attacked by 20 youths armed with parangs in front of shocked devotees.

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