A day after Tamil Nadu police allegedly attempted to detain documentary filmmaker Divya Bharathi, the Madurai High court has passed an interim order to prevent her arrest till Friday. The court has posted the next hearing in the matter for July 7. This was after the Tamil Nadu police claimed in court that there was no warrant for Divya's arrest.
There is however no clarity on why the TN police want to question or detain her. It is expected that the Additional Advocate General will inform the court why a team of police personnel descended on Divya's house, and wanted her to accompany them, though there is no FIR or complaint against her.
Speaking to TNM over the phone, her husband Gopal said that over 15 officials entered her house in Madurai on Monday evening, demanding her father to disclose Divya Bharathiâ€™s whereabouts. On Tuesday, the group stopped her vehicle outside the Madurai District Court, insisting that she come with them. When asked to identify themselves, they revealed that they were police personnel from Salem.
According to Divya's lawyer Robert Chandrakumar, her counsel had listed four respondents in their plea for anticipatory bail - the DGP, the Madurai Commissioner of Police, District Crime Branch (Madurai) and the local police station near the filmmaker's residence.
"The public prosecutor questioned why we made the DGP a respondent in a case for anticipatory bail. We told them that it was because police from Salem came to detain Divya," says advocate Robert. The public prosecutor then claimed that the police had come down from Ooty. The judge then said Additional Advocate General Chellapandian will lead the issue. "Till now, we don't know why the police came and why they were trying to detain her," he adds.
Activists claim that this confession from the police, shows that an attempt to intimidate Divya was in process.
"Even without an FIR they tried to detain her and in court also this has been admitted," says Adhavan Deetchanya, General Secretary, Tamil Nadu Murpokku Ezhuthalar Kalaingargal Sangam. "Even on Wednesday they tried to chase down her husband Gopal who was riding a two-wheeler. He managed to escape," he adds.
According to the activist and friends of the filmmaker, this is an attempt by the state government to stop the release of her upcoming documentary. It was announced earlier this year that Orutharum Varela, a documentary on the devastating effects of Cyclone Ockhi that wreaked havoc on coastal India in December last year, would be out soon.
After much delay, the trailer of the documentary was released on YouTube on June 28. Following this, Divya alleged that she is receiving threats and unwarranted visits from police officials at her residence and her workplace in Madurai.
"The government is trying to ensure self-censorship and to nip any kind of criticism against it at the bud. This is an effort to intimidate anyone who seeks to expose them," says Adhavan.
This isn't the first time the filmmaker, lawyer and activist Divya Bharathi has come under police radar. Her documentary Kakkoos, that released last year, ruffled feathers in the state for exposing the ugly truth of the inhuman practise.