The uneasy calm that prevailed as Monday dawned soon turned into panic, as rumours of ‘announcements’ on chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s health did the rounds, before ending in an outpouring of grief. The 68-year-old AIADMK supremo breathed her last at 11.30pm. The life in the city of Chennai, as well as the major parts of Tamil Nadu seems to have become hollow and lifeless. The people in Chennai are mourning over Amma’s demise and have gathered to pay homage to their beloved leader, their ‘amma’ or ‘mother’.
About 2,000 policemen were deployed around the hospital in case emotional crowds of devoted supporters reacted strongly to further developments. Supporters have been known to commit suicide in reaction to bad news.
“Nothing can kill Amma,” said one man holding a picture of the leader outside the hospital.
Offices and schools shut or closed early and panic buying sent prices soaring as the city virtually shut down, fearing the worst.
Earlier in the morning, there was confusion among parents as social media was flooded with messages about a holiday for educational institutions. There was no official government declaration, but a few schools decided not to function.
Elsewhere in the city, a bandh like situation prevailed with relatively less traffic on the roads.
Educational institutions sent students home early in the afternoon, while several offices asked their staff to leave early.
Shops, including petty outlets, eateries and departmental stores, closed shutters, even as people stocked essentials. Many bus and suburban rail stations wore a near deserted look by 7.00 PM itself while the number of private vehicles was also less on many roads.
Government buses going to Karnataka from Coimbatore and Nilgiris district did not function and also buses from that state were stopped at the inter-state borders on Nilgiris district apprehending violence, police said.