The cartoon apparently refers to the recent row over DMK Lok Sabha MP Dayanidhi Maran’s controversial remarks after a meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Shanmugam.

A photo of VCK chief Thirumavalavan
news Controversy Tuesday, May 19, 2020 - 11:31

A cartoonist from Villupuram district in Tamil Nadu was arrested for an obscene depiction of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) chief Thol Thirumavalavan on Monday. The cartoon, which shows the leader licking the boot of a man wearing a veshti in Dravidian colours, is titled ‘So called Dalit leaders keep silence on DMK's disrespects on Dalits.’

Surendhra Kumar, who publishes his work under the name ‘Varma cartoonist’, was booked under Sections 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of The Information Technology Act, 2000.

“The complaint was given by Ilavarasan, a VCK party worker. An FIR has been filed under IPC Sections 153, 504 and 505 and Section 67 of the IT Act,” Villupuram Superintendent of Police S Jeyakumar told TNM.

The cartoon is an apparent reference to DMK Lok Sabha MP Dayanidhi Maran’s controversial remarks after a meeting with Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary K Shanmugam. 

On May 13, the MP, along with fellow DMK MPs TR Baalu and Thamizhachi Thangapandian, met with the Chief Secretary to hand over petitions received from citizens. Speaking to media persons after the meeting, the DMK leaders alleged that they had been humiliated by K Shanmugam. 

While claiming that the Chief Secretary did not lower the volume of the TV in his office despite meeting with people’s representatives, Dayanidhi Maran said that the Opposition party delegation had been treated like oppressed people. 

“Third class people. It's a word I cannot say. People like you. Are we oppressed people?” he had asked. 

The remark led to backlash from many quarters, including from filmmaker Pa Ranjith and actor-politician Kamal Haasan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM). Meanwhile, many on social media had asked why VCK chief Thirumavalavan had not condemned the statement from the allied party MP.

In a video response, the VCK chief slammed the double standard of those asking him to speak up on the issue while they remained mum on caste-based crimes. 

He said, “DMK MP and former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran's comments have created controversy. We can say it is fair if the criticism is put forth by the people affected by it. But casteists and religious fanatics, who watch all the atrocities that take place and irresponsible people who have never condemned it, have asked why Thirumavalan has not condemned it. They are trying to divert the issue.”

Thirumavalavan had condemned Chief Secretary Shanmugam and said, “There have been no questions raised on why the Congress hasn't condemned it or why Left parties have not condemned it. Social organisations that are not involved in political or electoral politics can condemn too? All democratic forces can condemn? I'm not able to understand this approach. It is justified if those who ask why Thirumavalan has not condemned it are people who care about and work for oppressed people. We can say it is justified if these are well-wishers of Thirumavalan or the VCK.”

Not naming Maran by name, the VCK chief added, “If something has affected the people of this soil then it means that it has also affected me. We have pointed this out politely. We are not escaping without expressing an opinion. Our view can be understood by the very fact that we are expressing an opinion on it. It's enough if those who need to understand it are able to do so.”

The Chennai Central MP said in a statement last week that he did not intend to hurt anyone's feelings. “I only meant that the Chief Secretary treated us in a derogatory way. I had no intention of hurting anyone. If anybody is hurt, I express my deep regrets,” he said.

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