While the police claimed that they filed the case following a petition from the owner of the venue, complaining that the organisers had underplayed seriousness of the event, all leading political parties in the state condemned the police action. (Representational)
Coimbatore police on Saturday filed separate cases against leading Tamil news channel Puthiya Thalamurai, film director Ameer and MLA U Thaniyarasu for “objectionable remarks” made during a TV debate that was shot two days ago. The cases were registered for remarks made in the indoor debate show attended by about 1,500 people. The remarks in question were, however, not in the show telecast on Saturday evening.
While the police claimed that they filed the case following a petition from the owner of the venue, complaining that the organisers had underplayed seriousness of the event, all leading political parties in the state condemned the police action.
The debate show, which was shot a day before the telecast, was on whether protests happening in Tamil Nadu were for people’s rights or for political reasons. The venue for the shoot was SNR and Sons College, Coimbatore.
During the debate, state BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan said that those who engage in violence and burn public properties during protests are “anti-social elements”. In his reply, Ameer said if those who burnt vehicles in Tuticorin protests are “anti-social”, many BJP cadres are the same and cited communal tension and vandalism of public properties by Hindu groups after the murder of Hindu Munnani leader Sasikumar in Coimbatore in 2016.
His remark drew angry protests from BJP sympathisers among the audience. Amid heated arguments, the shoot was stopped for about 30 minutes.
Although Ameer had apologised after the show resumed, police filed a case against him on Saturday under Sections 153 A and 505, alleging that his remarks could lead to tension between sections of people. MLA Thaniyarasu, who was accused of abetting him, was also booked. Thaniyarasu had reportedly tried to explain what Ameer had said.
“Portions that triggered heated arguments were not used in the show we broadcast on Saturday. Still they booked the channel and the reporter,” an official from the channel said.
In a statement, Chennai Press Club said the police action is an attempt to curtail freedom of expression.