State government scrambles early in the morning to secure a ban on thaali festival

news Tuesday, April 14, 2015 - 05:30
Early Tuesday morning, while Tamil families woke up to celebrate a bright new year, about twenty one couples from across the state gathered in Chennai to remove their thaalis (mangalustras). Two events, a thaali removing festival and a beef eating fest was announced by the Dravida Kazhagam(DK) a month earlier, but with at least 25 complaints calling for a ban as it hurt the sentiments of people, the police had banned the event. On Monday morning, the police ban on the event was quashed by Justice D Hariparanthaman, who directed the police to provide the necessary protection that the event deserved. However, early Tuesday morning, the event was stayed by a Special Bench of the Madras High Court comprising of Justices Satish K Agnihotri and M Venugopal after an appeal by the State government. Apprehending a stay on the event, DK held the Thaali removing ceremony few hours ahead of its actual schedule, the beef eating, on the other hand, was abandoned. “The state government or police did not act with such haste in the case of activist Traffic Ramaswamy. They did not act so fast when 20 Tamil workers died in the AP encounter. Then what is the urgency for the Madras High Court to take up this case at eight o clock in the morning,” questioned Gnani, a senior political analyst. On the other hand, VCK leader Ravikumar believed that the act of opting for a ban by the government and the court came as a joke. Even though he did not advocate the form of protest that Dravida Kazhagam had embarked upon, he said that instead of providing protection for an event, the idea of the state government going to court and getting a stay seemed ridiculous. “Tamil Nadu is a playing field for fringe groups,” he said explaining that the government was allowing fringe groups to remain a danger to society. However, the necessity for the state government to appeal and quash Monday night’s order allowing DK to conduct the programme was questioned. “When we can have weddings publicly, why can’t we have Thaali removal functions?” asks Gnani. However, he believed that the state government was playing it safe by scrambling for a ban, thus keeping the BJP and the Hindutva groups content. However, according to former Tamil Nadu Additional Director General of Police, Natraj, (who is now an AIADMK member), the ban was directed only over the possibility that it could rake up communal passions. “All this is just cheap publicity. It is a question of faith. When you demonstrate in a public forum, why rake up communal issues,” said Nagaraj, who believed that instead, if the thaali removal had been done privately in the confines of one’s homes, no questions would have been asked. “There is freedom of expression, but all within certain parameters,” he said. According to Dravida Kazhagam president DK Veeramani, the party had not gone against the law as the thaali removal event was held before the court stay. “"The function was held in accordance with the permission granted (by a single judge of the High Court yesterday),”he said. However the decision to conduct the beef fest was dropped. “We are not going to defy the ban. We will fight this out in court,” he said. DK now plans to appeal in court on Wednesday for permission to hold the beef festival. The event itself was announced almost a month ago by Dravida Kazhagam leader Veeramani, after petrol bombs were thrown at the Puthiya Thalamurai TV office for telecasting a promo on a show discussing the relevance of the thaali(mangalsutra) in modern life. (Images courtesy: Vetri, Dravida Kazhagam)

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