Updated: January 3, 2020 3:12:31 am
A Tamil scholar who allegedly made incendiary remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah has been remanded in judicial custody till January 13. He is now currently lodged in Central Prison in Salem.
NSS Nellai Kannan, 75, was picked by the district police from a guest house in Perambalur on Wednesday. Soon after the news spread, the members of BJP gathered before the guest house and raised slogans against him. He was then taken to a government hospital for health check-up and was produced before the Judicial Magistrate Court on Thursday.
When the Melapalayam police reached Kannan’s residence to arrest him on Tuesday, the police were informed by the family members that on complaints of chest pain, Kannan has been taken in an ambulance to a private hospital in Tirunelveli. According to sources, he was later shifted to a hospital in Madurai for better treatment.
The Tamil scholar’s arrest on Wednesday came hours after BJP cadres led by H Raja, the National Secretary of the party staged a dharna at the Marina beach demanding Kannan’s arrest. Alongside Raja, senior BJP leaders like Pon Radhakrishnan, L Ganesan, and CP Radhakrishnan also took part in the protest. The protestors were detained by the Chennai police in a community hall in the city and were later released.
In a meeting organised by the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) on December 29 to show their dissent to the Citizenship Amendment Act, Kannan courted controversy by criticising PM Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, TN chief minister Edappadi K Palanisamy and deputy chief Minister O.Pannerselvam. The meeting was attended by Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai Katchi leader T Velmurugan, Nellai Mubarak, the state president of SDPI and other popular Muslim fronts.
The video of the speech became viral on social media and the agitated BJP cadres demanded the arrest of Kannan. Multiple complaints were filed by the Tamil Nadu Bharathiya Janata Party against Kannan and subsequently, the Melapalayam police booked the scholar under sections 504(Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace). 505(1)(b) (intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offense against the state or against the public tranquility), and 505 (2) (statement which create or promote enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code.
On behalf of the party, a formal complaint was lodged by the state general secretary KS Narendran on December 30 to the Director General of Police.
“Kannan intentionally insulted the Honourable Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah and with the intention of abetting and provocating the section of peoples (Muslims) to break the public peace and also induced them to commit an offense against the state, the Prime Minister and Home Minister. Further his speech is against the national integrity and creating communal clash and it will affect the Public Tranquility. I request you to enquire into this complaint and take stringent action against Nellai Kannan,” the complaint read.
Reacting to Nellai Kannan’s arrest, Tamil Nadu Congress leader KS Alagiri released a statement where he accused the TN government of partiality.
“Nellai Kannan has been arrested for his comments on PM Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah, but what about Seeman? he said that they are the ones who killed and buried Rajiv Gandhi. Even after filing multiple complaints no action has been taken against Seeman. Why different yardsticks for Seeman and Kannan?” the statement read.
Who is Nellai Kannan?
Born in 1945 in Tirunelveli aka Nellai, Kannan was a member of the Indian National Congress. He also unsuccessfully contested from the Tirunelveli constituency.
In the 1996 General elections, Kannan unsuccessfully contested against former TN CM M.Karunanidhi. He was appointed the General Secretary of Tamil Nadu Congress and later elevated to the Vice-President in the party. He had a close association with Congress leaders like G.K. Moopanar, Vazhapadi Ramamoorthi, K.V. Thangabalu, etc.
In 2006, Kannan left the party and campaigned for the AIADMK. After the AIADMK lost the elections, Kannan remained inactive in politics for a brief period. He then began appearing in television through debate shows and often gave a discourse on spirituality, Tamil literature, etc.
Condemning Kannan’s arrest, the Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai party federation addressed a presser on Thursday. Speaking to the reporters, the Tamizhaga Vazhvurimai party leader Velmurugan said the government is trying to suppress the alternate voices.
VCK leader and MP Thirumavalvan said Nellai Kannan’s comments were taken out of context. “Nellai Kannan has been in the politics for more than 50 years, he doesn’t deserve to be treated like this. He is known for his witty remarks, his remark on Narendra Modi and Amit Shah was something similar to that. He speaks openly, he even took a jibe at Velmurugan’s caste, and the people who gathered at the meeting would have raised slogans if his comments were taken seriously. The BJP took his speech out of context and made it a big issue. I am shocked seeing the reaction of the TN government who haven’t initiated any action when some of the BJP cadres gave life threat to the opposition leaders.
Why can’t the government use the same yardstick for everyone? Why is the TN government acting as a stooge to the BJP-led government? If the police don’t file an FIR against H Raja, we will stage a protest at Marina demanding his arrest,” he said.
The ruling AIADMK government also broke its silence on Thursday morning by saying that the arrest of Nellai Kannan was not carried out with any motivation.
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