Five days after the Tamil Nadu government dropped charges under the Goondas Act on techie-turned-farmer Arul Arumugam, THE district court in Tiruvannamalai granted him bail on Wednesday, January 10. Speaking to TNM, Arul condemned the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) party for allegedly deceiving farmers after promising to work in their best interest before they came to power in 2021.
Arul said the protests against the government’s decision to acquire 3,000 acres of wetlands for the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu (SIPCOT), will continue and that the farmers will pursue cases against the authorities for unjustly charging him and six other farmers under the Goondas Act.
Arul Arumugam was among the 33 persons against whom a case was registered for protesting against SIPCOT, in August 2023. Twenty persons, including Arul, were arrested on November 4 based on the case filed in August and seven of them were charged under the Goondas Act. While charges of Goondas Act were dropped against six farmers on November 20 by Chief Minister MK Stalin, the government refused to revoke charges against Arul by claiming that he was not a farmer from Tiruvannamalai district and that he was “instigating” farmers around Melma and Cheyyar to protest.
Responding to the allegations, Arul said, “The truth is that my farmland is in Tiruvannamalai and my house is across the border, in Krishnagiri. I am fighting alongside other farmers whose lands will be taken away for SIPCOT. I was not an outsider instigating them.”
Arul said he had campaigned for the DMK in 2021, “I had stuck posters for the DMK in Melma, Cheyyar among other villages. I campaigned for them in Salem, Dharmapuri and Tiruvannamalai districts because MK Stalin as the Opposition leader promised to scrap the eight-lane-expressway project. He promised to help us and work in the best interest of the farmers. But he has betrayed those of us who helped the party come to power. They have deceived farmers in Tamil Nadu.”
“The government tried to show that if anyone protests against them and their decisions, they will use the Goondas Act. But, farmers have shown that we, the people of the state, will retaliate,” he said.
He told TNM that he is already in touch with lawyers to help quash the cases against the farmers and ascertained that he will pursue cases against authorities including the Tiruvannamalai District Collector, B Murugesh, for issuing the order that charged farmers who were protesting to safeguard their livelihoods with the Goondas Act.