SALEM : A retired head constable R Rathinam (68) was back in the news after his self-immolation bid in front of the Salem Collectorate on Monday. He claimed the hospitalisation of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa had caused him immense grief. An ardent AIADMK supporter, Rathinam had been displaying his loyalty through bizarre acts.
In 1986, when the then Chief Minister M G Ramachandran visited Vazhapadi, Rathinam in uniform was posted on security duty. He reportedly shouted at him several times “My God, my God”, stunning top police officials. Subsequently, the Inspector General ordered that he be removed from the spot. However he was spared disciplinary action.
In 2004 parliamentary elections, when Rathinam was a head constable in Karipatti Police Station, he went overboard again. At the Ramar Temple in Ayothiapattinam, he severed the last three fingers of his left hand and put them as offering into the hundial. His prayer was that the AIADMK must win all the seats in Tamil Nadu.
He was taken to the Salem GH and based on Jayalalithaa’s order, efforts were made to re-attach his severed fingers surgically. But he refused, saying what had been offered to God should not be taken back. Later, Jayalalithaa had him admitted in Apollo Hospital in Chennai for treatment.
After recovery he was posted with the highway patrol in Mallur till his retirement in 2006. Rathinam continued to show his loyalty even after retirement, even though the party’s district units did not recognise him. During polls, he used to campaign for the AIADMK, conducting street plays on his own, without party backing, and always spending from his own pocket.
On Monday, he surprised the police on duty at the Collectorate gate when he arrived suddenly and poured a large can of kerosene over his body. He shouted “Long live Amma” and took out a match box to set himself ablaze. But the police quickly pounced on him and prevented his suicide bid. He was later moved to the Salem GH.