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‘Revoke Goondas on farmers’ chorus by activists grows louder

The revoking of Goondas Act charges against their family members was based on the condition that they would not protest from hereon

‘Revoke Goondas on farmers’ chorus by activists grows louder

PMK president Anbumani Ramadoss welcoming the released farmers protesting against land acquisition for Melma SIPCOT in Cheyyar on Wednesday

CHENNAI: Representatives of farmers associations, human rights and social activists have demanded the state government to revoke the Goondas Act charges against Arul Arumugham, convenor of the Eight Lane Highway Opposition Movement and an advisor to the Farmers Against Melma SIPCOT Movement.

“Since July 2023, many farmers have been consistently opposing the Melma SIPCOT project planned to be established in Cheyyar Taluk, Tiruvannamalai. In the early morning of November 4, 20 of the villagers, who were on the frontline of the opposition, were arrested and kept in judicial custody. On November 15, Tiruvannamalai Collector ordered the detaining of seven of the arrested farmers under the Goondas Act. After being pressurised by opposition parties, the Chief Minister announced on November 17 that the Goondas Act filed against six of the farmers was being revoked,” Dr V Suresh, National General Secretary, PUCL told reporters. He noted that however, the Goondas Act case filed against Arul was not revoked.

Citing media reports, a joint statement signed by six organisations, including CPM state secretary K Balakrishnan, convenor, Samyukt Kisan Morcha and Arappor Iyakkam convenor Jayaram Venkatesan said, some of the family members of the six farmers against whom the Goondas Act charges were revoked, alleged that they were forced by Cheyyar MLA O Jothi and PWD and Highways Minister EV Velu into writing petitions alleging Arul of coercing them to protest. The revoking of Goondas Act charges against their family members was based on the condition that they would not protest from hereon.

They said that the district administration failed to provide the farmers, who have been protesting since July 2, with opportunities to voice out their opinions freely and openly without any fear. “Between July and November, 11 cases have been filed by the district police against the protesting farmers, including Arul. The content of all the five cases filed at Anakkavur Police Station on August 28, is the same. Only the complainants differ. Even the sections invoked in these cases – IPC 147, 341, 24 (b), and 506 (1) – are the same. They contain all the elements of a false and fabricated case. All these actions taken by the district police are nothing but preparation work to lay the ground for the invocation of the Goondas Act,” they noted.

Pointing to the press meet held by Minister Velu, they said that it reveals a complete indifference to the fundamental rights and “the duties laid out in the Indian Constitution. The entire press meet was an indignity, disregarding Constitutional provisions and portraying the socially-conscious youngsters as criminals.”

“The Goondas Act charges against activist Arul should be revoked. The farmers who were arrested for protesting must be released immediately and the cases filed against them must be dropped,” they demanded. They also sought sacking of Minister Velu for utter disregard for the Constitution.

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