MADRAS Dec. 25, Reuter: Nearly a million people attended the burial of film star and politician M.G. Ramachandran in Madras on Friday and at least five of his fans committed suicide in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.

Wailing women and grieving men jammed the streets and packed Madras’s marina beach where the body was buried.

Crowds thronged the eight km route through which Ramachandran’s body, draped in the Indian National flag, was carried on a gun carriage.

His supporters and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s Cabinet colleagues, escorted by armed “Black Cat” commandoes, followed the cortege to the beach.

Troops at the beach fired three volleys and bugles sounded the last post in final respect to the man who ruled Tamil Nadu as Chief Minister for 10 years, acted in 130, Tamil films and provided free meals for poor schoolchildren.

In movies he played the modern day Robin Hood, robbing the rich to help the poor, beating up villains and rescuing damsels in distress.

He used his immense popularity as a film star to become a politician with a winning touch.

Police said five of his fans were so distressed they hanged themselves to death. Three others tried to immolate themselves but police prevented them from setting themselves ablaze.

Shortly after Ramachandran, 70, died in his sleep on Thursday morning tens of thousands of people jammed the streets of Madras, looted shops and burned vehicles in a bid to impose total mourning.

Article extracted from this publication >> January 1, 1988