Activist Thirumurugan Gandhi, the founder of the May 17 Movement, was arrested in the wee hours of Thursday at the Bengaluru International Airport by Chennai police, on charges of sedition. Thirumurugan was returning from Europe after attending the 38th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which concluded on July 7, in Geneva.
According to a report in The Hindu, the city police has registered 22 cases against him for having campaigned against the eight-lane Chennai-Salem Green Corridor project and the Thoothukudi police firing incident, which shook the state in May this year. A lookout notice was also issued across the country recently to detain him immediately.
Thirumurugan had recently talked about the Thoothukudi firings at the UN Council sessions.
As the news spread, many, including political leaders, took to social media to condemn this arrest.
TTV Dinakaran, leader of Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (AMMK) had also tweeted in Thirumurugan’s support.
“Arresting Thirumurugan Gandhi of May 17 movement who highlighted the human rights violation of the Thoothukudi firings that killed 13 innocent people at the UN Human Rights Council is not just in violation of human rights about also basic rights,” he wrote from his official Twitter handle.
தூத்துக்குடி ஸ்டெர்லைட் எதிர்ப்புப் போராட்டத்தில் 13 பேர் சுட்டுக் கொல்லப்பட்டதை ஐநா அவையின் மனித உரிமை கவுன்சில் கூட்டத்தில் பதிவு செய்ததற்காக, மே 17 இயக்கத்தின் திருமுருகன் காந்தி கைது செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளது, மனித உரிமை மீறல் மட்டுமல்லாது அடிப்படை உரிமையை மீறும் செயல்.— TTV Dhinakaran (@TTVDhinakaran) August 9, 2018
TTV Dinakaran condemns the arrest of May 17 Chief Thirumurugan Gandhi, for speaking about the killing of 13 people in Thoothukudi, at UN. In a tweet he says, the arrest is not only atrocious but also violation of fundamental right & demands his unconditional release immediately.— Savukku_Shankar (@savukku) August 9, 2018
Calling for the immediate release of Thirumurugan Gandhi, Vaiko also said in a statement that the former was right to have spoken about the Human Rights violation at UN council.
Condemning the arrest of Mr Thirumurugan Gandhi. Government establishments must abide by the definition of democracy that's of the people, by the people, for the people & should not behave in accordance to a gangster rule. Unmasking a hitman is not a crime!#ReleaseThirumurugan— கிருஷ்ணகுமார் த - Krishnakumar T (@KrishnaThavasi) August 9, 2018
So, if you upload the VDO of ur speech that you spoke in UNHRC, you will be arrested in airport itself under 124A. Thats what TN govt did against Thirumurugan Gandhi— G.sundarrajan (@SundarrajanG) August 9, 2018
The arrest of #May17 leader #ThirumuruganGandhi is atrocious the person who has recorded his voice for thoothukudi gunshoot aganist innocent people is arrested in the name of #ReleaseThirumuruganGandhi #ReleaseThirumurugan— kirubanandhan (@kiruba_24011997) August 9, 2018
The arrest of #ThirumuruganGandhi of May17 movement, reportedly under NSA, is atrocious and highly condemnable. He has just returned from an international campaign on the violations of human rights in Tamil Nadu . #ReleaseThirumuruganGandhi.— பயணி (@panneerperumal) August 9, 2018
Incidentally, on June 18, activist and environmentalist Piyush Manush was arrested by the Salem police for protesting against the expansion of the Salem airport as well as the proposed eight-lane Chennai-Salem expressway. Five days after his arrest, he was granted bail.