'Political vindictiveness': Ramachandra Guha criticises Badri Seshadri's arrest in letter to Stalin

If there is a case to be made against him, it should be made in court. A pre-emptive arrest merely on the basis of an FIR appears to be an act of political vindictiveness,” wrote Guha in the letter.
Badri Seshadri was arrested from his Chennai home by the Perambalur police
Badri Seshadri was arrested from his Chennai home by the Perambalur police

Historian Ramachandra Guha has written to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin calling for the immediate release of publisher and political analyst Badri Seshadri.

“Mr Seshadri is accused of having criticised the Supreme Court of India. In a functioning democracy, such criticisms cannot be by themselves a basis for arrest. If there is a case to be made against him, it should be made in court. A pre-emptive arrest merely on the basis of an FIR appears to be an act of political vindictiveness,” wrote Guha in the letter.

“I do not endorse Mr Seshadri’s political views, yet his arrest is inconsistent with the principles of natural justice. It brings discredit to your Government and to the culture and history of the Tamil people. Given this rich literary and intellectual history, Tamil Nadu should be the last state in the Indian Union to be held guilty of persecuting writers for their political views,” Guha went on to say.

Seshadri was arrested from his Chennai home by the Perambalur police over his remarks on the Chief Justice of India during a YouTube discussion on the Manipur violence.

The arrest was made following a complaint from a lawyer who claimed that he was disturbed by Seshadri's views on the judiciary. Police had booked him under IPC sections 153 (provocation with intent to cause riot), 153 A (1) (a) (promote enmity between groups through words) and 505 (1) (b) (causing fear and alarm in public).

“You have yourself recently inaugurated a library named after Mr Karunanidhi. Earlier in the year your government organised an international book fair in Chennai. Yet your government’s claim to promote literature and culture rings hollow in the light of the arrest of Mr Seshadri. As a writer who has deep personal connections to the state of Tamil Nadu, I appeal to you to release Mr Seshadri immediately,” added Guha.

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