CHENNAI: Just hours after a court here pulled up the city police for arresting activist Thirumurugan Gandhi on frivolous grounds, he was again rounded up by the cops on Friday and taken forcibly in a car as he was walking out of the office of the Joint Commissioner of Police. Gandhi was released by the police in the evening after a magistrate court refused to remand him since the court found the sedition charges slapped against the activist were baseless.
But as Gandhi had hardly walked a few metres on the Pantheon Road from the office a group of policemen suddenly surrounded Gandhi and asked him again to come with them. As he refused and demanded the police to show arrest warrant, he was forcibly taken into a vehicle by the police. Later, a police officer said they have to picked up again Gandhi since they want to interrogate him in a 2017 case of "unlawful protest" that was pending in the Royapettah police station.
Gandhi was initially arrested on Thursday early hours as he landed in the Bengaluru airport from Geneva. He had addressed the United Nations Humans Right Council (UNHRC) there last month about the Thoothukudi police firing on anti-sterlite protestors. The Chennai police booked him sedition charges since the video of his speech at the council, uploaded in social media, is "instigating hatred among the people."
When Gandhi was produced by the city police before magistrate S Prakash on Friday, the police faced tough questions from the judge on why the activist was arrested for a video that was uploaded by the UNHRC.
Sources said the magistrate Prakash asked the police to list the incidents of violence that broke out after the video was uploaded. Also, the judge pointed out that the video was not uploaded by Gandhi in the first place. It was uploaded by the UNHRC. Since the speech was delivered at UN forum where India is also a representative, Thirumurugan cannot be held responsible for it as the videos were uploaded by the UNHRC, the court pointed out.
The complaint against Gandhi was filed by Haja Amir Hussain of the AIADMK's IT wing, last month days after the video of Gandhi's speech uploaded in the internet.
Thirumurugan Gandhi also produced the documents, including the invitation for him to speak at the UNHRC and the recordings of what his speech. The court subsequently said it cannot remand Gandhi, but allowed police to have him in custody for 24 hours to interrogate him.
The police took him to the Joint Commissioner of Police office on Pantheon Road. He was let off by the police in the evening only to be again rounded up in a few minutes. "It was just a few minutes since Thirumurugan walked out of the police office when a team of policemen rushed and again detained him. Despite, asking for an arrest warrant, the police did not pay heed and took him again in a car," said Praveen Kumar, Coordinator of May 17 movement.
A senior police officer said Gandhi was picked up for interrogation in a 2017 pending case for staging a protest at Royapettah without police permission.