Arappor Iyakkam activist arrested for opposing encroachment by temple in Chennai

Nakkeeran was arrested based on the complaint of a PMK member that he had insulted the latter with casteist abuse and assaulted him with others.
Arappor Iyakkam activist arrested for opposing encroachment by temple in Chennai
Arappor Iyakkam activist arrested for opposing encroachment by temple in Chennai
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A member of Chennai-based rights and advocacy group, Arappor Iyakkam, was arrested on Thursday, after he spoke up against a temple that is being expanded by allegedly illegally encroaching on a road in Ramapuram.

According to Chandramohan, a member of the Arappor Iyakkam, Nakkeeran Pughazhendi was arrested early on Thursday morning.

“The Rayala police reached his house at 4.30am in the morning and arrested him. They did not let him use his mobile phone to make any calls. They took him to the Central Crime Branch (CCB) and then the Kunrathur D13 police station, and after that produced him before a judicial magistrate who remanded him to the Puzhal Central Prison. Only after he was remanded, he was allowed to tell his father. They made sure that we did not interrupt while the procedure was going on,” Chandramohan alleged.

Nakkeeran’s arrest comes four days after a member of the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) named RA Kumar filed a complaint against five members of the Arappor Iyakkam on October 28. In his complaint, Kumar alleged that Nakkeeran had insulted him with casteist abuses at a public meeting in Ramapuram conducted by Arappor Iyakkam on October 28, and that Nakkeeran and others had assaulted Kumar.

However, Chandramohan claims that Kumar’s complaint is motivated by Nakkeeran’s opposition to the allegedly illegal expansion of the Kalasathamman Koil. He said that Nakkeeran had spoken about this issue at the public meeting called with residents welfare associations and residents of the area on civic issues faced by them.

“The issue is that a temple was being illegally constructed in a patta land in Ramapuram and it was done by a local leader called Kumar from PMK. Arappor Iyakkam has been opposing this and Nakkeeran was leading the opposition over there. Moreover, he has been working with the people in that area for the last 8 years on civic issues,” said Chandramohan.

Chandramohan also alleged that it was Kumar who had created a ruckus during the public meeting on October 28.

“We had a meeting on Saturday in Ramapuram called Coffee with MLA to answer the questions of the people but the MLA did not turn up. Nakkeeran was speaking about the illegal construction issue and while he was giving the speech, Kumar came over there and created a ruckus. People got angry and questioned the police as to how can they allow this. Because of that he was asked to leave,” said Chandramohan.

Chandramohan also alleged that Kumar and others had assaulted them. “Later, he came back with other goons and beat up three people from our organization. They said they did this because we spoke ill of their caste. They also went and filed a complaint at the Rayala police station against us, claiming that we beat them up and spoke ill about their caste. He has filed all these false cases against us,” said Chandramohan.

The FIR filed by the Rayala police lists offences under Sections 143 (Punishment for being part of unlawful assembly), 147 (Punishment for rioting), 149 (Every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence commit­ted in prosecution of common object), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 294(b) (sings, recites or utters any obscene song, ballad or words, in or near any public place), 323 (Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt.) and 506(1) (Punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC.

“How can police attach unlawful assembly when they only gave us the permission to assemble? On Saturday, the inspector was asking us to ignore Kumar saying he was drunk and now, they have filed an FIR against us,” said Chandramohan.

An official at the Rayala police station, however, said that sections relating to unlawful assembly were applied because the public meeting had not been granted police permission.

However, Arappor Iyakkam has not filed any police complaint against Kumar till the time of writing this story.

The Inspector of the Rayala police station was unavailable for comment despite repeated attempts to contact him. 

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