Tamil Nadu

Anti-CAA kolam protest: Activist Gayatri Khandhadai counters Chennai Police Commissioner’s remarks on Pakistan link

Anti-CAA protester and advocate Gayatri Khandhadai addressing a press conference in Madurai on Thursday.

Anti-CAA protester and advocate Gayatri Khandhadai addressing a press conference in Madurai on Thursday.   | Photo Credit: G_Moorthy

She explains that in 2016 she had filed a report for Bytes for All [a Pakistan based advocacy group] highlighting the discrimination faced by religious minorities in nine Asian countries.

A day after Chennai Police Commissioner A.K. Viswanathan said that the police would probe the Pakistani links of advocate Gayatri Khandhadai, who participated in the anti-CAA kolam protest, she explained that in 2016 she had only filed a report for ‘Bytes for All’ [a Pakistan based advocacy group] highlighting the discrimination faced by religious minorities in nine Asian countries.

“In this report, I have also written about the discrimination faced by Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh. It would have been nice if the police had read the report completely and then addressed the press conference,” she told journalists in Madurai on Thursday.

“By revealing my Facebook profile during the press conference, Chennai City Police have compromised my privacy and security. Chennai City Police Commissioner is responsible for my safety and security,” she said. Ms. Khandhadai denied that she had deleted any content from her Facebook account.

The Commissioner had also said that the police detained anti-CAA protesters only after an elderly person opposed the protesters from drawing kolams in front of his house.

However, Ms. Gayathri contended, “We did not go to that house or meet that person. We did not draw kolams in front of houses that opposed us.”

Henri Tiphagne, founder and executive director of People’s Watch, charged that the police are targeting human rights defenders including Ms. Khandhadai and Arappor Iyakkam and condemned it. “A complaint regarding this has been submitted to the National Human Rights Commission and we will take steps to ensure that the issue was taken by the Bar Council of India,” he said.

Senior advocates T. Lajapathi Roy and M. Ajmal Khan also condemned the police for detaining advocates who went to provide legal aid to the protesters. They stressed that the Bar Council of India must consider the incident suo motu and take necessary action.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Congress Committee president K.S. Alagiri demanded that the police investigation against Ms. Khandhadai’s alleged Pakistan connection be dropped immediately. Mr. Alagiri said she was not associated with any organisation in Pakistan but had only undertaken research for a Pakistan based research organisation. “In the 80-page report filed by her about minorities in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives and Indonesia, there is nothing that is supporting Pakistan. If he finds such a thing in the report, the Police Commissioner must furnish proof,” Mr. Alagiri said.

Mr. Alagiri said the action against Ms. Khandhadai was vindictive on the part of the government and requested the Commissioner to not toe such a line of the rulers.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 5:30:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/anti-caa-kolam-protest-activist-gayatri-khandhadai-counters-chennai-police-commissioners-remarks-on-pakistan-link/article30463674.ece

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