‘Huge deceit against Dalits’: Pa Ranjith slams DMK govt for refusing to bury Armstrong at BSP office

Ranjith also condemned the social media discourse that is trying to label Armstrong as a rowdy.
Filmmaker Pa Ranjith with late BSP leader K Armstrong
Filmmaker Pa Ranjith with late BSP leader K ArmstrongFacebook/Pa Ranjith
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Filmmaker Pa Ranjith who is grieving the loss of BSP Tamil Nadu chief K Armstrong, posed a series of questions to the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) government regarding its stance on the murder of Armstrong. In a statement issued on Monday, July 8, the filmmaker questioned the government about its decision to deny permission to bury the TN BSP president at his residence-cum-office in Perambur. 

Ranjith and Armstrong have been politically associated with the Ambedkarite movement. Armstrong has contributed to several of Neelam’s events, a foundation run by Ranjith.

Armstrong, who is a well-known Ambedkarite Buddhist leader, was hacked to death by bike-borne assailants on July 5. The murder of the Dalit leader has created a turmoil in the state with the opposition parties terming it a failure of the law and order under Chief Minister MK Stalin.

Pointing out that they performed the last rites of Armstrong without causing any law and order problem following the principles of Babasaheb BR Ambedkar, Ranjith said that though the DMK government has the power it had resorted to the court denying permission to bury the body at BSP’s office in Perambur.

“At the end of the nearly two-day drama, we were forced to bury him in Pottur, a suburban village outside Chennai, unwillingly.”

Ranjith said that the DMK committed a huge act of deceit by not allowing him to bury his body in Perambur, where he lived. “Do you really care about Dalit people and Dalit leaders?” he asked. It must be noted that the DMK government did not object to the burial of DMDK leader Vijayakant at the party office in Koyambedu. 

The Madras High Court, on July 7, refused the burial of Armstrong within the party office premises in Chennai as it is located in a residential area, and instead directed to conduct the burial in a private land in Pothur village in Vilivakkam Panchayat union in Tiruvallur district.

Questioning the law and order situation, Ranjith said that the assailants carried out the attack near Sembiam police station without any fear of the police. “What action plan are you going to create to restore law and order and prevent such an incident from happening again?” he asked.

The filmmaker also raised suspicion over the police investigation in the case. “The police are only interested in closing the case on the basis of what those who surrendered said. Who planned this? Who directed them? Has the police department come to the conclusion that there is no other background for this?” Eight persons have been arrested in the case. While the police claim that Armstrong was killed in retaliation to the murder of gangster Arcot Suresh last year, BSP and Dalit activists contest the claim and are dubbing it as a ‘political murder’.  BSP national president and former Chief Minister Mayawati said that the ‘real culprits’ are yet to be arrested and has sought a CBI inquiry into the murder. 

Ranjith also asked when the government will start noticing the threat to the lives of Dalits and Dalit leaders in the state. “If this government has created an environment where it is very easy to kill the great leader who was the bulwark of the Dalit people in the capital, then there is fear when we think of other rural towns in Tamil Nadu. To get rid of this tension and threat, the Tamil Nadu government should let us know what plans it has,” he asked.

Ranjith also condemned the social media discourse that is trying to label Armstrong as a rowdy. He said that people who agitate for the sake of the self-respect of Dalits are dubbed as rowdy’s. “You can satisfy yourself by creating such stories against the person who distributed lakhs of books and who promoted Buddhism in the Babasaheb way, believing that Dhamma will bring liberation.”

Filmmaker Pa Ranjith with late BSP leader K Armstrong
What we know so far about BSP leader Armstrong’s murder in Chennai

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