The Salem police has slapped sedition charges against sidelined AIADMK Deputy General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran and 17 of his supporters for distributing pamphlets on NEET.
The pamphlets that were distributed by Dhinakaran supporters in Salem on September 29 hit out at the Tamil Nadu and Central governments for killing Anitha, a medical aspirant who had committed suicide on September 1 after she failed to secure an MBBS seat owing to her poor NEET score.
While one pamphlet reads, â€śCan the government of murderers be allowed to continue?â€ť, another says, â€śMurder is not only killing a life, itâ€™s also killing feelingsâ€ť. The pamphlets also go on to accuse the Centre and the state governments of not taking a decision on NEET on time.
An FIR was registered on September 29 at the Annadannapatty police station after a complaint was filed by AIADMK District Secretary KRS Saravanan.
Dhinakaran, MLA Vetrivel, AIADMK Karnataka State Secretary Pugazhendi and others have been booked under IPC sections 124A (sedition), 143 (unlawful assembly), 120B (Criminal conspiracy), 153 (promoting enmity), 500 (defamation), 504 (intentional insult), 506(2) (criminal intimidation).
Dhinakaran was not present when the pamphlets were distributed.
Four people including former MLA Venkatachalam were arrested by the police on Monday, reported Times of India.
Draconian Sedition law
The pre-colonial sedition law that is used to muzzle opinions of those speaking against governments has been criticised vehemently by many in India.
Writing about the sedition law in The Hindu, Suhrith Parthasarathy says, "Use of sedition law continues to have the effect of chilling free speech and expression in India. Section 124-A of the IPC negates the right to dissent, which is an essential condition of any reasonable government.
With criticism mounting against the draconian law and its misuse by many police forces, the Law Commission is reviewing whether to do away with the law.
Dhinakaran reacted to the sedition charges by hitting out at Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami. "The government is anyway going to fall. They are doing such things since he (EPS) is the police minister. Let them do what they want. The AIADMK supporters and the people are going to send them home," Dhinakaran said.
Speaking to CNN News 18, Dhinakaran supporter CR Saraswathi called the sedition charges an act of political vendetta. "Chinnamma (Sasikala) made Mr Edappadi the Chief Minister. (But now) they want to give trouble (to Dhinakaran) in all possible ways. This is one of the ways," she said.
Eighteen MLAs who had pledged support to Dhinakaran were disqualified by the Tamil Nadu Speaker in September for voluntarily giving up their party membership. This after the MLAs had submitted petitions to Governor Vidyasagar Rao expressing lack of confidence in Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami.
Dhinakaran and his supporters have been targeted in the recent weeks. Earlier, TTV and actor Senthil had been booked for allegedly making defamatory remarks against AIADMK MP P Kumar.
Police are on the lookout for former Transport Minister and MLA Senthil Balaji, who has been accused in a cheating case filed in 2015. IT Raids were also carried out in properties belonging to Senthil Balaji recently.