news Monday, March 16, 2015 - 05:30
Sameera Ahmed | The News Minute | March 13, 2015 | 04.20 pm IST Activists in Tamil Nadu have for a long time faced the repercussions of their actions - by both the police and the state government. Latest in the spate of recent events is the arrest of 82 year-old activist Traffic Ramaswamy who found himself counting jail bars after threatening a man in Chennai. On Wednesday, a demonstration by Ramaswamy to remove banners on roads went awry after a restaurant owner Veeramani questioned Ramaswamy for holding up traffic. It was then that the activist threatened the owner with "dire consequences" , said the police. However, what followed was a police complaint by the owner which landed the octogenarian in jail for a night. Based on the complaint, he was booked under PC Section 506 ii (criminal intimidation) and 294 b (obscenity in public). After spending a night in jail, the senior activist was hospitalised at the Royapettah Hospital.  According to D Nagasaila, a Madras High Court lawyer with the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, most arrests are arbitrary: "The Supreme Court has repeatedly said don't arrest just because you have the power to arrest." According to her, the normal procedure under the Criminal Procedure Code would be to issue summons so that they can enquire with him.. “Obviously you tend to step on toes. The police machinery is used or rather abused. He contested the Srirangam elections,” she said, indicating that the arrest could have been a sign of teaching the activist a lesson for his past political endeavours, which resulted in clashes with parties contesting in Srirangam. Even though the AIADMK swept the bypolls, Ramaswamy won the highest votes amongst individual candidates. He even courted trouble with other parties when he tore down a flex board carrying images of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and and Union Minister Pon Radhakrishnan alleging that it violated the Model of Conduct. “It is a motivated arrest. There is something else behind the whole thing.” In latest developments regarding the arrest of Traffic Ramaswamy, Madras HC Judge Sivagnanam rapped the Chennai police for arresting the activist over a "petty" incident. In January, an RTI activist Siva Elango was arrested and lodged in Puzhal jail for refusing to stand during a hearing at the Information Commission in Chennai. The issue began when Elangovan refused to stand during an enquiry with the Chief Information Commissioner Chief KS Sripathi demanding that he be shown an order or a rule that demanded that the petitioner stand during a hearing.  When he was not heard and asked to leave, the activist staged a sit-in. Soon enough , a complaint was lodged against the activist and he was put in judicial custody. According to Marx, a Chennai-based activist, the main problem for activists came from three main sources - the police, the state government and corporate officials. He said that human rights activists attempt to bring out the injustice they face by the opposition. When it goes above a certain level, they use authority over them, he said.  In 2012, five north-Indian migrant workers were killed during a night “police encounter”. When some activists attempted to investigate the story behind the killings, they were met with violence as the police attempted to stop their investigation, he recounted. According to him, even a “fact-finding” committee which visited Kudankulam was arrested by the police after they visited the site to determine the ground reality of the protest against it. Mentioning the recent court order to all private organisations to remove the word ‘human rights’ from their title, he also said that when the judiciary itself was giving so much importance to such groups, why was the state government reluctant in taking their views? “It is absurd to have a law like this in Tamil Nadu. Nowhere else in the world does such a law exist,” he said, about the 2010 amendment that prevents any private organisation from running with the "human rights" title. Saying that the Traffic Ramaswamy arrest was not a major issue, he however condemned the attack saying that it was not right for the police to misuse their powers and infringe on those of activists. Read The real surprise at the Srirangam by-poll didn't feature the AIADMK at all Read Traffic Ramaswamy - one man in Chennai everyone needs to know about Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
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