Jailed for pulling down Jayalalithaa banners, families await activists' return

"I did not know that he will be arrested for it," said Anusha.
Jailed for pulling down Jayalalithaa banners, families await activists' return
Jailed for pulling down Jayalalithaa banners, families await activists' return
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While most people were looking forward to the New Year, the last day of 2015 turned out to be terrible for three families in Chennai.

Three activists Jayaram Venkatesan, Chandra Mohan and Athher Ahmed of the Arappor Iyakkam were arrested for taking down posters of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa which lined the road between from Thiruvanmiyur to Royappetah in the coty. The 12km stretch of road had around 1,000 posters for the AIADMK’s General Council meeting on Thursday, December 31, 2015.  

Atther Ahmed’s wife Ishrat said that she did not know where her husband was for one-and-a-half days. “On Wednesday, he (Atther Ahmed) told me that he is going out for a while and came back by night. I did not know that he was detained for pulling down the hoardings that day. On Thursday again he left but could not inform me,” Ishrat said.

It was only on Friday afternoon that she got a message from Atther telling her that he had been arrested. “I was shocked to see that. I have not been able to contact him since then.”

Treasurer of Arappor Iyakkam P Nakkeeran told The News Minute that most of the banners on the road were protruding onto the carriageway, hindering vehicular movement and traffic jams.

“It was dangerous for the public. There was one such hoarding near the Music Academy so we went and filed a complaint at the Royappetah police station on Wednesday and that particular hoarding was removed on the same day. Later, we came to know that inspector of the Royappetah station was suspended, we have not verified it,” he said.

The group also tried to file complaints over other banners which were jutting out onto the roads but were turned away by police who said it was not under their jurisdiction. When they got this response at the Abiramapuram police station, Nakkeeran said they tried to call the deputy commissioner of police and the commissioner but no one responded.

On Thursday, the group decided to pull down the hoardings on TTK Road themselves at noon. “AIADMK cadre came and attacked us. The police came and arrested our members. We tried to file a complaint against the AIADMK cadres but the complaint was not taken,” said Nakkeeran.

It has been five days and the three activists are still in the Puzhal Central jail and Jayaram’s wife Anusha is worried. “He told me that he was going to pull down AIADMK hoardings and banners on Thursday but I did not know that he will be arrested for it. I thought he will be detained, not arrested,” Anusha said.

The arrests have been carried out under charges of “public property damage”. Nakkeeran said that all they did was to try to remove AIADMK banners. He said that permission from the corporation was needed to put up banners in the city limits. A license number is given to each banner which has to be displayed. Nakkeeran alleged that the banners were “illegal” as none of them carried the license number.

Arappor Iyakkam’s bail application for its activists will be called for hearing on Wednesday at the magistrate court in Egmore. Nakkeeran said that they would file a complaint with the court seeking action against AIADMK cadre who allegedly threatened them and the Abiramapuram police inspector Gunnavaran, if the Police Commissioner does not take any action.

“They did no wrong. They were just trying to remove obstacles on the roads. The ones who did something wrong were not arrested but the ones who tried to remove the hoardings were arrested. I just hope he (Atther) returns soon. Both my children keep asking about him,” Ishrath said.

Here's the video of activists pulling down the hoardings:

Video courtesy:  Arappor Iyakkam

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