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Tamil Nadu police crackdown sparks more protests, DMK leader seeks action against officer

The police action on Friday evening also dented the image of the police and AIADMK government who have so far restrained from using force or imposing serious charges over nearly 100 peaceful anti-CAA protests held across the state since December last year.

Written by Arun Janardhanan | Chennai | Published: February 16, 2020 3:56:22 am
chennai caa protests A protest against Friday’s police action in Chennai on Saturday. (PTI)

A day after the police cracked down on an anti-CAA protest in Chennai’s Washermanpet, triggering rumours of deaths and several demonstrations across the state, senior DMK leader and Thoothukudi MP Kanimozhi on Saturday sought immediate suspension of and a probe against IPS officer and North Chennai Joint Commissioner of Police Kapilkumar Saratkar, who, she said, “mishandled the situation which led to violence”.

Tamil Nadu continued to witness over a dozen protests on Saturday, mainly by Muslim outfits, on major towns and roads on Saturday.

The police action on Friday evening also dented the image of the police and AIADMK government who have so far restrained from using force or imposing serious charges over nearly 100 peaceful anti-CAA protests held across the state since December last year.

“Across the state, we didn’t have arrests or sedition cases in the last two months against CAA protesters. No protester was arrested or remanded, except for preventive custodies that last few hours, before they were released. This was a wrong move, we will definitely probe what exactly led to tension,” said a senior officer who was part of the meeting on Saturday between Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and city Police Commissioner A K Viswanathan.

Many, including senior officers, pointed fingers at Saratkar, an IPS officer blamed for the Thoothukudi police firing two years ago which killed 13 people.

DMK MP Kanimozhi also reminded the government that Saratkar was DIG at the time of the Thoothukudi firing. “He is under probe by both CBI and a Commission of Inquiry. He should have been given a non-sensitive post till the probe in Thoothukudi firing is complete. Instead he is rewarded with Joint Commissioner (law and order) post,” she said.

While police across the state were busy maintaining law and order on Saturday in the wake of spontaneous protests, including traders shutting shop in the Nilgiris and groups blocking traffic on state highways, a senior officer recalled the initial briefing they received from the government at the beginning of anti-CAA protests. “The government may have voted in favour of CAA for whatever reasons but we were told to cooperate with protesters. Even if we were tasked to file cases against protests held without permission, or to take fringe groups in preventive custody, we were keeping in touch with all leaders. We kept only minimal force at protest venues. There is no change except for the wrong move by some officers on Friday,” he said.

On Friday, the protest began around 2.30pm. “We had been seeking permission for a continuous sit-in protest for several weeks. Finally we decided to go ahead with a Shaheen Bagh model protest. There was no provocation or resistance until they used force and let loose policemen to beat women who were sitting far away from the main road,” said Anwar Ahmed, a trader who was part of the protest on Friday night.

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