Court sets activist free, police arrest him again

Thirumurugan Gandhi   | Photo Credit: L_SRINIVASAN

May 17 Movement co-ordinator Thirumurugan Gandhi was set free on Friday, only to be arrested again.

A Metropolitan Magistrate’s Court declined to remand him, and asked the police to set him free after an enquiry. Following court orders, the police let him go a couple of hours later.

But as he was coming out of the Old Police Commissioner’s office after a session with Crime Branch officials, the police rearrested him, this time in connection with an older case.

Mr. Gandhi was arrested on Thursday by the Bengaluru police on the basis of a lookout notice issued by Chennai police as soon as he landed at the airport in the Karnataka capital.

Against the State

The Chennai police wanted to act against Mr. Gandhi for circulating his speech at the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on social media. It was against the State police and goverment. In the speech, he had raised the issue of police firing at anti-Sterlite agitators, leading to the death of 13 at Thoothukudi.

He was brought to city by road and taken to the residence of XI Metropolitan Magistrate S. Prakash in Saidapet for remand at 8.20 a.m. on Friday. Criticising the police for not allowing Mr. Gandhi to even freshen up, the magistrate asked the police to clarify as to how a person could be charged for a speech given before the UNHRC of which India was a member.

Around 11.30 a.m, he was produced in the court hall of the XI Metropolitan Magistrate and the investigation officer (IO) submitted a written explanation stating that the case did not concern the speech at the UNHRC but the Tamil version of it circulated it on social media with “intent to spark riots.”

Right to dissent

Declining remand, Mr. Prakash said that a person could not be sent to custody for a speech made before the UNHRC.

“If we do so, it will sound the death knell to the concept of liberty and rights enshrined in our Constitution,” he noted.

However, the magistrate allowed the police to complete their enquiry within the 24-hour period of his detention before ordering his release.

Around 3 p.m, he was taken to the building of the Old Commissionerate for enquiry and set free around 5 p.m. He had walked just a few yards when he was picked up again by the police. His pleas went in vain. Praveen, a co-ordinator of the May 17 Movement said, “Gandhi walked only a few yards after signing a few documents. A group of 30 police personnel bundled him and took him away without giving any reason.” The police said that he had been arrested in connection with a previous case against him for organising an agitation in 2017 in Royapettah, in defiance of regulatory orders.

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Printable version | Jun 8, 2021 2:01:10 AM |

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