Popular Tamil Nadu activist Traffic Ramaswamy, who was well known for his activism towards eradicating encroachments and banners, has passed away on Tuesday in Chennai at the age of 87 due to breathing ailments, becoming one of the notable figures across and beyond the state to succumb to the complications of the viral infection.
The 87-year-old octogenarian was battling the pandemic for the past few days in Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital in Chennai. He had later tested negative for the pandemic and the hospital said that he had developed lung issues and was put under life support. However, his health had deteriorated on Tuesday and he was spelt to be in a critical condition.
As he was battling for life, many rumours were doing rounds on social media in the morning hours of Tuesday that Ramaswamy had passed away. However, the reports have asserted that he is still under treatment and under life support. While several people had expressed their wishes to the social activist for a speedy recovery, the hospital has officially announced that Ramaswamy had breathed his last at around 8.30 pm on Tuesday at the age of 87.
KR Ramaswamy, better known as Traffic Ramaswamy, has drawn prominence for his activism and he was a founding member of the Home Guards in Chennai and he was often seen regulating traffic in arterial and vehicle-snarling roads. It was due to his act of clearing traffic, the term 'traffic' prefixed his name and he was called Traffic Ramaswamy till his last breath.
Apart from clearing traffic, he had also cleared encroachments in the city and his activism had brought major changes in the infrastructure and administration in Tamil Nadu. He was also known as the lawyer for bringing change as he had filed several litigations in the court to demand the removal and abrogation of the moves of the governments. According to reports, he had filed over 500 Public Interest Litigations (PILs) in two decades.
His first PIL was in 1998 when he challenged the state government's decision to construct a flyover on the NSC Bose road near the Madras High Court. The octagenarian had always been irking the political leaders over his activism of removing the banners and hoardings that were kept on the highways in the fashion of hindering the passers-by. He had removed such banners single-handedly and invited trouble from the ruling leaders through facing fresh legal cases.
Being a strong critic of ADMK's Jayalalithaa, Ramaswamy had also contested against the late Chief Minister in the 2015 RK Nagar by-polls. He had contested as an independent candidate to take on the mighty rival. Ramaswamy had also received exponential threats over his activism due to which he was granted with police security in 2018. KR Ramasamy was born on April 1, 1934, to an agricultural family and his first 18 years were spent helping his family in agriculture.
At the age of 18, he started working as a helper to then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu C Rajagopalachari, whom Ramaswamy had considered a role model. In 2018, a biopic titled 'Traffic Ramaswamy' was released based on the life of Ramaswamy. The biopic was directed by debutant Vicky in which the father of actor Vijay, SA Chandrasekar had portrayed the character of Ramaswamy. Ever since the news of his demise broke out, several political leaders and people have been paying tribute to the deceased soul and expressing their anguish over the loss of the people's activist.