Thousands of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers were arrested across Tamil Nadu on Sunday when they defied police orders and tried to take out processions to mark the founder’s day.
RSS counsel served “contempt notice” on the authorities because the Madras High Court had allowed the procession.
The police said that at least 21,000 persons were taken into custody and released a couple of hours later. Though permission was granted for the procession in all districts, the police prevented the workers from taking out the march.
Action under amendment
The action was based on the amendment to the Chennai City Police Act, 1888, which empowered the police to prohibit training or assembly by groups with arms or in uniform that resembles that of the armed forces or the police. Most of the RSS workers were in the ‘khaki’ uniform.
Under Section 41(A) of the Act, to ensure public peace and safety, the police may prohibit any drill with arms by five or more persons at any place or carrying of arms in any procession. The word ‘arms’ meant any type of offensive weapon and included ‘lathi’ or stick.
However, the High Court, while directing the police to grant permission for the procession with certain restrictions, had said the initial orders by the police, rejecting the request for the procession, did not comply with Section 41 (A) of the Act. The court had held that the provision did not apply to processions but only to drill, training, assembly with arms or in uniform. The aspect of uniform appeared to have been “raised as a bogey,” it had said, as no member of the police force wore short pants today.
B. Rabu Manohar, counsel for the RSS who moved the High Court for permission, said notice was served on the DGP, the Home Secretary and the Chennai Police Commissioner on Sunday. “We got information that the police were going to stop the processions. Hence, the notice was served,” he said.
In Chennai, the police arrested BJP State president Tamilisai Soundararajan, who took part in the procession that was to start from Rukmani Lakshmipathy Salai outside the Rajarathinam Stadium.