Chennai: A transfer of three police constables from Cuddalore to Kallakurichi district, purportedly for taking a photograph of them standing in front of a statue of Periyar E V Ramasamy on his birth anniversary on September 17, has raised a political storm, besides generating widespread anger in social media.
Besides leaders like DK President K Veeramani, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) general secretary Thol Thirumavalavan and DMK leader T K S Elangovan demanding the withdrawal of the transfer order and the reinstatement of the policemen back in Cuddalore, DMK Youth Wing secretary Udhayanidhi Stalin and scores of social media users launched a broadside against the State government for its action.
Though the order issued by Cuddalore SP, M Sree Abhinav, on October 6 states that S Ranjith (Grade I PC), D Rangarajan (PC) and G Ashok (PC) were being transferred on ‘administrative grounds,’ the political leaders who have taken umbrage to it alleged that they were transferred only because they had paid homage to Periyar on his birth anniversary.
While no department enquiry was held against the three policemen, an official from the intelligence wing had questioned them in an intimidating manner and told them that it was inappropriate for them to have taken their picture with the Periyar statue as the backdrop.
One of the policemen had put up the photograph as his WhatsApp status image, whose screenshot had been taken by somebody and sent to the higher ups. The intelligence department official had told the policemen that their higher ups were not happy with their behavior and wanted to find out how that had happened.
Then suddenly they were issued the transfer order, whose copy had been put up in the various social media posts, including that of Veeramani and Udhayanidhi Stalin. Those posts also carried the picture of four young men standing in front of the garlanded statue of Periyar, which the State government had found to be offensive.
The particular statue near the Anna bridge over Gadilam river was unveiled by the late M Karunanidhi at the very spot where footwear was hurled on Periyar as he was leaving the town after a meeting one night, said Elangovan.
Thiruvamavalavan, in his statement, said that two of the transferred police personnel belonged to Scheduled Castes while the third one hailed from a Most Backward Classes community and all three of them had married outside their castes. They were not on duty nor in uniform when the picture was taken.
Did the Tamil Nadu government consider the three men taking a picture in front of the statue of a man who dedicated his life for social justice and defended self-respect a crime, he asked, urging the government to prove that it was directed by the party of MGR and J Jayalalithaa, who came the way of Periyar.
Veeramani said they would have the photograph as a gratitude to the man who strove for the education and employment of marginalized communities.
Social media users were however scathing in their attack on the government, questioning as to how it was wrong to take a picture in front of the statue when many devotees even violate uniform dress code when they prepare themselves to go on pilgrimages to shrines like Sabarimala and when religious activities were carried out inside police stations.