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Thursday, February 03, 2000

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3 burnt alive

By Our Special Correspondent

CHENNAI, FEB. 2. Protests by the AIADMK cadres to the Special Court's verdict against Ms. Jayalalitha took a gory turn as three women undergraduates of the Tamil Nadu Agricultural University (TNAU) were charred to death and several others injured in a bizarre incident of arson near Dharmapuri today. About 70 students of the TNAU, returning by two buses to Coimbatore after a study tour, were waylaid by a group. The first bus became the target.

The ``AIADMK men'' forced them to alight. Even as the girls were getting down, one of the miscreants threw a petrol bomb engulfing the bus in flames. In the panic, three of the girls - identified as Hemalatha of Chennai, V. Gayathri of Vridhachalam and Kokila of Namakkal - were fatally trapped. Sixteen other girls, including three who suffered burns, have been admitted to hospital.

Later at a function, Ms. Jayalalitha denied that AIADMK men were involved in the Dharmapuri incident, maintaining that her party did not believe in violence. She appealed to party cadres not to indulge in any action that would inconvenience the public.

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