Chennai: A school run by superstar Rajinikanth’s wife Latha Rajinikanth in Chennai was locked up last night by the building’s landlord, who alleges that he has not received crores in rent.
The Ashram Matriculation School has denied the charge and said it will sue the owner for defamation. “Taking the law into his hands and without any information, once again, the landlord has created immense agony to the school, children, parents and management today,” the school management said in a statement today, asserting that it had decided to vacate the premises. The school, which has 300 students, has shifted to another campus for now.
The row has erupted at a time Rajinikanth is seen to warm up to politics, with significant cameos recently at events organized by Tamil Nadu’s opposition DMK party. Rumours about the 67-year-old launching his own party have been swirling since the actor said in May: “If God wills it, I will enter politics tomorrow.”
According to the Ashram school management, the owner has been charging “exorbitant” rent and making “unsubstantiated allegations”. In its statement, the school said: “It is not just about the rent but it is about their exploitation of the situation and it is about asking for unfair, unreasonable and exorbitant increment in rentals for which we have been negotiating and speaking with them.”
The school, recognized by the government in 1996, ran into trouble earlier in 2011 when the land owner asked the court to allow eviction. Its problems deepened when the state government issued new rules requiring a 30-year lease for renewal of recognition to any school. Two years later, the landlord allegedly demanded an enormous rent, which the school has challenged.
In December, there were protests by drivers who alleged that the school had delayed their salary for months. At the time, the management blamed a cash crunch following demonetization.