The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court gave temporary relief to documentary filmmaker and CPI(ML) activist Divya Bharathi by staying the FIR filed against her. The court order came after the public prosecutor informed the court that there was no objectionable content in her documentary film Kakkoos.
The case was heard by Justice V Bharathidasan and he ordered a stay on the FIR filed against Divya Bharathi.
The FIR against Divya was filed at Othakadi police station on August 3, 2017 after a complaint was given by Bhaskar Maduram, who is the youth wing leader of the Puthiya Tamilagam party. It was filed under section 153 (A) (Promoting enmity between different groups) and 505 (1) (b) (Statements conducing to public mischief) of the IPC and 66 F of Information Technology Act, 2000 (Punishment for cyber terrorism).
The complainant alleged that Kakkoos shows the Pallar community in bad light.
Following this, Divya Bharathi had filed a petition in the Madras High Court last week, asking that the FIR filed against her be quashed.
In the petition, she had stated that she had made the documentary film with the intention of spreading awareness about manual scavenging in different parts of Tamil Nadu. She had also said that it was not to create any enmity between communities.
There are many complaints being filed by party members of Puthiya Tamilagam in different districts of Tamil Nadu, alleges Divya.
“Many complaints have been filed against me. The Dindigul police came twice to my house when I was not there, they might file an FIR for that complaint also,” she says.
Divya was also arrested by the police on July 25 for a 2009 FIR filed against her in Madurai. She was released by the court and asked to sign at a police station in Madurai for a week.
The documentary Kakkoos was uploaded on YouTube on February 26, 2017. The film shows sanitary workers and manual scavengers talking about the kind of work that they are asked to carry out. She had also mentioned the castes of the people who are involved in manual scavenging in different parts of Tamil Nadu and had further criticised the Modi government's Swachh Bharat programme.
Divya began receiving threat phone calls in July. She claims that this happened after she uploaded another video in which two sanitary workers make serious allegations against Chitra Selvi, the Dean of Anna University, Dindigul, including sexual harassment by her husband.
Divya believes that there is a campaign against her because Chitra Selvi belongs to the Pallar caste, which the Puthiya Tamilagam party represents. She alleges that the complaints about Kakkoos began only after the second video was released.
“However, the threat calls have drastically reduced now. I receive only three to four threat calls on a daily basis,” says Divya.
She added that the case will come for hearing in four weeks.