Chennai police goes overboard detaining those from the northeast to check Tibetan protests

Robert (name changed) from Mizoram, an employee of an apparel showroom in Royapettah, was in a cab on Saturday when a cop spotted him near a traffic signal in Saidapet. He was detained at Saidapet police station till evening.

“I was picked up on Friday morning as well from Guindy Metro station, where I usually board a train for work, and detained till 8 p.m. To avoid this, I took a cab on Saturday from Velachery, where I stay. But it proved useless,” he said.

He was one of roughly 40 people from north-eastern States who were held, thanks to unprecedented security arrangements, during the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping last week.

In their zeal to prevent any protest against the Chinese President, the police are blamed for mistaking north-easterners for potential Tibetan protesters. Associations representing north-easterners in Chennai said that this was despite almost all detainees carrying identity proof. “We received informal communication from police before the visit to anticipate security checks. We were told that carrying identity proof would keep us away from trouble. We had communicated the same to our people,” said P.C. Michael, general secretary, Chennai Mizo Welfare Association.

“I was carrying my Aadhaar card, PAN card and employment proof. However, nothing helped. What is the point of carrying them if I am made to feel like an outsider in my country,” he asked. He added that the police collected a written undertaking about their permanent address, photocopies of identify proof, and noted identification marks.

Mr. Michael said that he started receiving calls since Friday morning about people getting detained. “We began to worry when they were not released until late afternoon. Some senior police officers helped,” he said.

Tluanga Colney, General Secretary, NE India Welfare Association, Chennai, who had to visit St. Thomas Mount police station on Friday night for releasing people, said that around 40, including many women, were detained, mainly in Koyambedu, St. Thomas Mount and Saidapet stations.

In a parallel development, Tibetan activists arrested ahead of the Chinese President’s visit will be released from Central Prison, Puzhal, on Tuesday, said sources.

They were planning to stage protests and show black flags to the visiting leader.

On October 6, Tenzin, an award-winning poet and writer was arrested in Villupuram. The same day, the Selaiyur police arrested Yeshi Sherpa, a volunteer of the Tibetan Young Buddhist Association; Tenzin Iobsang, a native of New Delhi; Tsering Dhondup, a techie; Kalsang Gyaltso, a restaurant manager; Jigme Dhonyou, a software company executive; Rinzin, a native of Himachal Pradesh; and Tashi Ihakden, among others.

The next day, Palden Dhondup, a leader of Tibetan students in Chennai, was arrested in Palavakkam, by the Neelankarai police. All ten were booked under Section 7(1)(a) of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, read with Section 4 of The Foreigners Act (obstruction, intent to use violence and loitering). The Tibetan nationals were produced before a magistrate court and sent to the Central Prison in Puzhal.

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Printable version | Oct 31, 2020 1:23:13 AM |

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