Chennai Police arrested DMK’s Organising Secretary and Rajya Sabha MP RS Bharathi early on Saturday for his derogatory remarks on Dalit judges. He had made the offensive comments at an event held in DMK Youth Wing headquarters in Chennai in February 2020.
According to reports, the police arrested him from his residence in Alandur, Chennai, following a complaint lodged by Kalyan Kumar, the Chief of Adi Tamilar Makkal Katchi. Based on the complaint, the police have registered an FIR against him under the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Speaking to reporters minutes before his arrest, RS Bharathi said that his speech was taken out of context. “A particular group on social media campaigned against me with that speech. The next day, I responded to that. It has been 100 days since then. Today early morning they came to arrest me. The reason for this sudden arrest is that only yesterday (Friday) evening I lodged a complaint against (Deputy Chief Minister) OPS’s (O Panneerselvam) corruption. Even now we are preparing another complaint about having bought bleaching powder for disinfection activities in Coimbatore for about Rs 200 crore. Somehow they got this information through intelligence (officials) and have arrested me,” he said. Adding that a wedding will not stop because somebody hides a comb, Bharathi said that even if he is in jail the complaint against TN Minister SP Velumani will reach the authorities.
“Even after I told the police my age and that I was under self-quarantine, they are taking me. I feel sorry for the policemen because they are being used (by the government) to satisfy someone else. In the next seven to eight months, the same officers will come for our security and salute us. We have seen this five times and are used to this,” he added.
He also recollected the arrest of the late DMK Patriarch M Karunanidhi at midnight in 2001 and said, “We will work even more enthusiastically now because our leader MK Stalin was jailed under the Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) when he was 22 years old. We have got him as our leader. We won’t be bogged down by these cases. We will continue voicing out against the corruption of this government.”
On February 15, 2020, RS Bharathi spoke at a Kalaignar Readers’ Circle event at Anbagam, the DMK Youth Wing headquarters in Chennai. In the 12-minute long video, which went viral on social media, he spoke about the significance of the Dravidian movement and how Tamil Nadu is the best state in the country because of this movement.
The lawyer then claimed that the appointment of Dalits as High Court judges was because of the “alms” given by the Dravidian movement. “No ‘Harijan’ (an abusive term for Dalits) has become the judge of the High Court in Madhya Pradesh. But in Tamil Nadu, after Kalaignar became the Chief Minister, A Varadarajan (became the first Dalit judge in Madras High Court). After him, around seven or eight from the Adi Dravidar community became the judges in the High Court. This was alms given by the Dravidian movement,” Bharathi had said. He also pointed to the dominance of Brahmins in the judiciary and alleged, “Now again they (Brahmins) are back in court. I am telling you out of angst, the Supreme Court has become an RSS centre.” His speech also had disparaging remarks about the media.
After his video went viral and sparked outrage on social media, Bharathi expressed regrets for his remarks against the marginalised communities. “I understand that some words I spoke at an event organised by Kalaignar Readers Circle in Chennai's Anbagam has hurt the sentiments of the oppressed persons. I express regret for that. My intention was not to hurt them, but to just highlight the good things Kalaignar has done for them,” he had tweeted.