82-year-old activist held, HC slams Chennai cops
The Madras High Court Friday pulled up the Chennai city police for arresting ‘Traffic’ Ramaswamy, 82-year old social activist, early on Thursday for “a petty case”. Ramaswamy was arrested on charges of blocking traffic while he was removing illegally erected political banners and for threatening a businessman who questioned his action. After the arrest, an ailing Ramaswamy was shifted to a government hospital as he fell unconscious. Knowing his ailments, the HC asked the authorities to admit him to a multi super-specialty hospital for further treatment.
Doctors said Ramaswamy did not take food or water after his arrest and was brought in an unconscious state. “His condition is stable now. He needs to be under observation for a day or two in ICU,” said a senior medical officer at the Government Royapettah Hospital.
“Ramaswamy is not a criminal. He deserved a better treatment,” said Justice T S Sivagnanam. The activist was arrested at around 4 am Thursday.
The judge said the arrest cannot be justified and asked the police to reply immediately as to what was the intention behind the arrest of a senior citizen. He also sought details of policemen involved in the early morning arrest.
A senior police officer said he was arrested on a complaint from Veeramani, a businessman who was allegedly threatened by Ramaswamy.
A regular petitioner against civic violations in the city, including illegal buildings and hoardings, Ramaswamy has also been at the forefront of questioning the abuse of power by political leaders and top officials and exposing the police-politician nexus. Recently, he started removing illegal banners and posters himself as no action was taken on his formal complaints and petitions.
A senior police officer said Ramaswamy was being watched by the police after he dared the police and removed hoardings of former chief minister J Jayalalithaa erected near her Poes Garden residence recently. On February 3, Ramaswamy, who contested as an independent candidate in the Srirangam byelection, had created flutter when he stopped the vehicle during his campaigns and started tearing a huge flex board banner installed by the road by a BJP leader for his daughter’s marriage. As the banner carried portraits of PM Narendra Modi and Union minister Pon Radhakrishnan, Ramaswamy alleged it was a violation of the model code of conduct.
Meanwhile, DMK leader M K Stalin visited him at the hospital. “As an activist who fights against illegal hoardings and banners during both AIADMK and DMK governments, he has earned the respect of people. Arresting a 82-year-old under the pretext that he threatened a person much younger than him smacks of vendetta,” Stalin said.
Source:: Indian Express