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Case against PETA activists for blindfolding Gandhi statue

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Ingrid Newkirk
Ingrid Newkirk

V.S. Palaniappan

They were protesting against Supreme Court allowing jallikattu

Coimbatore: The Coimbatore City Police on Thursday arrested the founder-director of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Ingrid Newkirk, for blindfolding the statue of Mahatma Gandhi at Gandhi Park on Wednesday as part of the organisation’s protest against the Supreme Court’s nod for jallikattu.

The police also arrested a watchman and contract labourer in charge of the statue, Sundaram, and coordinator, Campaign and Legal Affairs of PETA, N.G. Jayasimha, on charges of abetment.

Ms. Ingrid Newkirk on Wednesday urged children to speak out against jallikattu as part of her campaign, stating that the sport was in violation of the principles of non-violence propagated by him.

Following a complaint from the Area Congress Committee functionary, Thirumurugan, City Police Commissioner C.K. Gandhirajan ordered an inquiry. The police said the PETA functionaries had blindfolded the statue and hung a board that read: “Reject cruel sport jallikattu.”

Inspector (R. S. Puram) Cederick Manuel was transferred to the City Police Armed Reserve for failing to stop the protest.

Sections

A case was registered against the two PETA functionaries and the watchman under sections 109 (abetment to an offence), 447 (trespass), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage the religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code read with 3 and 4 of the Tamil Nadu Open Places (Prevention of Disfigurement) Act.

The three were let out on bail after they signed a bond, allowing them to fly out of Coimbatore on Thursday night as scheduled.

‘Misunderstanding’

Speaking over phone, Ms. Ingrid Newkirk said that the whole issue was born out of a misunderstanding.

The “blindfolding of the statue was only a sign of respect for Mahatma Gandhi, to close his eyes towards the horror meted out to animals in the name of jallikattu and was not a sign of disrespect as was being perceived.”

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