The Madras High Court had ordered the Spoken Waves festival to not conduct any activities within 100m of the beach.

Did Chennai cops beat up activists trying to save Olive Ridleys to protect revellers
news Environment Sunday, February 25, 2018 - 09:41

Did Chennai police go beyond their call of duty to provide security for a private party and prevent animal activists from doing their job?

Shravan Krishnan of the Students’ Sea Turtle Conservation Network and Antony Rubin, another environmental activist, have alleged that their shirts were torn by the police who also reportedly abused them in harsh language.

Shravan Krishnan had earlier petitioned the Madras HC for a stay on a private beach festival called Spoken Waves as it would disrupt the nesting of the Oliver Ridley turtles that wash up after dark.

The activists also alleged that police manhandled them to protect the party as the main organiser Nimisha Sara Philip is the daughter of a senior police officer.

On Friday, in response to the writ petition, the Madras High Court had ordered the organisers of Spoken Waves to refrain from any activity 100m from the beach.

While the court did not grant the stay, it had given eco-sensitive directions to the organisers. The festival is taking place between 3 pm on Saturday and 3 am on Sunday.

No participants of the festival are to enter the beach. The court had also directed the festival organisers not to use the any water sport vehicles.

Speaking to TNM, Shravan said, “We measured the distance from the sea to the event. It was only 55m. We have photos of it. When we tried doing a Facebook live from the beach, a public property, over 20 policemen came and roughed us up. They threatened to beat us up. They tore my shirt and abused me in harsh language. The Neelankarai police refused to take a complaint from me.”

On Saturday afternoon, Shravan Krishnan and Antony Rubin had visited the beach to observe if the organisers had followed the court direction.

When TNM visited the Injambakam beach close to the heavily guarded VGP Golden Beach Resort where the event is taking place, the police asked this reporter to leave the beach despite it being public property. One police official said, “You are from the media so I am telling you nicely. There is some problem here so leave.”

Many police sources TNM approached said they were 'unsure' why almost 20 policemen had been posted at the private event on a day that the Prime Minister is visiting the city. 

Nimisha Sara Philip, the festival organiser, says, “There is no question of violation. Everything is happening within the lawn. If there is violation, I would like to see proof of it.”

Rubbishing reports of Shravan being attacked, Nimisha believes that this is based on personal vendetta. “You can go on his Facebook profile and see the number of times he has targeted us. It’s very unfortunate that an environmental activist would use his public platform for personal matters,” she says.

Shravan Krishnan meanwhile shared candid camera footage from the event that he alleged shows the event organiser Nimisha Philip shouting at the VGP security personnel in Hindi and saying, "You cannot stop anyone." The Madras HC on Friday had specifically mentioned in its order, "The participants should restrict themselves to the lawns of the Resort keeping a distance of 100 meters from the beach." The man and woman enter the beach premises even as the security personnel are arguing with Nimisha.

Repeated attempts to contact the Neelankarai police were in vain.

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.