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Monday, May 29, 2023

DMK continues arrests of critics on flimsy grounds

The DMK government has arrested Tamil Nadu BJP executive committee member Sowdha Mani for sharing some posts on social media. The Madras High Court had refused to grant bail for sharing a post critical of a judgment.

A few months ago the 50 year old ex-news reader had shared the video of a man criticizing the DMK government for selectively demolishing Hindu temples in the name of removing encroachments. The man had posted information about a church encroachment and questioned why the government didn’t remove it while demolishing temples citing a court order.

He allegedly criticized a judgment as well. Sowdhamani had merely shared the video and quoted, “Courage? For Vidiyal?”. Vidiyal is a word used to denote promises made by DMK as the party used it as a tagline during the election campaign to promise that there will be better times once they come to power. Vidiyal literally means sunrise. Sowdhamani didn’t use any words that directly targeted the DMK government or the judiciary.

DMK IT wing had tagged the tweet as communal and filed a complaint in Kodungaiyur police station and later taken over by the cyber crime wing of the Central Crime Branch. She has been booked under Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riots), 153(1)(b) (circulating rumors to cause alarm among people or to disturb public tranquility) and 505(2) (circulating statements promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code.

In February she had applied for anticipatory bail but the court had dismissed her petition. At the time the court observed that the “petitioner has criticized the judgment rendered by an appropriate forum and if these types of messages are forwarded, people would definitely lose faith in the judiciary” and said that her tweet was against both the government and judiciary. Justice R. Pongiappan who denied bail was worried that she “may try to tamper with the witness and hamper the investigation”.

Curiously no action has been taken on the man who made the video. It is another matter that whether it is Sowdhamani or the man, everyone should have the right to free speech. Feminists at The News Minute who are usually vociferous about women’s rights have reported Sowdhamani’s arrest in an almost congratulatory tone. Dravidianists are most abusive towards the judiciary than anyone else. The moment a judgment goes against them, they start abusing the concerned judge based on his caste and the whole judicial system itself at times.

When the judgment on NEET wasn’t favorable to them, they mocked the Supreme Court as one being controlled by its tuft implying that it’s an institution controlled by Brahmins. Not only the second rung leaders, but even CM MK Stalin had also lied about the farm laws and Covid-19 vaccine before he assumed office. While talking about the now-repealed farm laws in a public meeting, he said “farmers will not be allowed to carry out farming in their fields”.

In another instance, he cast aspersions on the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine. He said, “There is news of a vaccine..(being invented) but it’s not clear how effective it is or whether it’s 100% successful..VIPs like the PM or CM haven’t taken it. Only a few doctors and some others took it. Because it is like a test only”. DMK’s whole campaign for the assembly elections in 2021 was based on lies and which can be read here.

DMK luminaries’ anti-Hindu hate speeches are also well known but they were never taken to task for them. All these are fit to be booked under the same sections Sowdhamani has been booked for. Yet BJP lacks the killer instinct while DMK is ruthless in suppressing even a little criticism. Sowdhamani receives vulgar abuse every day from the same Dravidianist handles. But DMK luminaries on Twitter who promised to ‘clean up’ the space and make it safe for women are attacking Sowdhamani instead of the abusers.

Gayathri Raghuram, president of the Art and Culture wing of BJP had tweeted in support of Sowdhamani saying DMK is choosing a soft target. To this, a DMK MP said, “Then give us a hard target yourself. We will ‘put them inside’ for your pleasure”. The same MP had threatened to put YouTuber Maridhas behind bars even before DMK came to power and followed up his words later. Dravidianists abused justice GR Swaminathan who quashed the FIR against Maridhas as he saw no merit in the charges. He was called a ‘Sanghi Dog’ and other names owing to his Brahmin identity. Maridhas was again booked for his video about Tablighi Jamaat which was also quashed by the court.

YouTubers Kishore K Swamy and Karthik Gopinath were arrested in a similar manner on frivolous charges to suppress criticism. Kishore K Swamy was arrested for tweeting an excerpt from Dravidian poet Bharathidasan. The poet had written that CN Annadurai took his niece to a wealthy man’s house to earn money. Kishore had merely shared this but he was arrested for “committing offense against the State and public tranquility” and “provocation with intent to cause riot”.

Karthik Gopinath, a nationalist YouTuber was arrested on trumped-up charges of money laundering after he collected funds to restore a vandalized temple. Later he was granted bail as police couldn’t provide any evidence to substantiate their claim and an interim order was passed to not file the chargesheet. Police haven’t submitted any evidence that Karthik used the funds for his personal benefits even after two adjournments. He has been exposing the DMK government’s mismanagement and fascist activities.

Seethaiyin Maindhan, another YouTuber was arrested for exposing Periyar aka EV Ramasamy’s real face. A pattern of trying to suppress critical voices through intimidation can be seen here. DMK seems to believe that incarceration will discourage such voices from continuing so that a rosy picture of DMK rule can be painted through the DMK pliant media.

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