Arrest of Anti-Sterlite Protester Fuels Unrest in Tuticorin

The village of Pandarampatti in Thoothukudi remained tense after a sit-in protest was organised by residents demanding the release of anti-Sterlite protester and student leader K Santhosh Raj. He was arrested on Thursday, 17 January, for allegedly distributing anti-Sterlite pamphlets in his college.

According to reports, residents of Pandarampatti blocked roads disrupting vehicular traffic, chanted slogans against the police on Thursday and Friday. The Hindu reports that police personnel have been deployed in the village to ensure law and order is maintained.

Santhosh who hails from Pandarampatti village is the President of the All College Students’ Federation.

Speaking to TNM, a police officer says that Santhosh was arrested for distributing pamphlets that promoting enmity. He says, “The message in them were in the tone of spreading hatred among the people. Hence we have arrested and remanded him.”

Also Read: Crippling Fear of Police Dampens Tuticorin’s Seething Anger

Santhosh has been lodged in Palayamkottai prison and an FIR has been registered under sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), 505(1) and (2) (Statements conducing to public mischief) read with 34 (Acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC.

According to a report in The New Indian Express, Santhosh's mother had told the media that her son left the house around 11.30 am on Thursday after receiving an "emergency" phone call.

Student activist K Santhosh Raj from Thoothukudi had gained popularity in June 2018 for asking Rajinikanth  ‘Who are you?’. He had been injured in the anti-Sterlite agitations on 22 May 2018 after police opened fire at the protesters, who had been demanding the closure of the copper plant in Thoothukudi. Weeks after the firing, Rajini visited those who had been injured at the government hospital.

Also Read: Tuticorin Residents Recount the Horror of Anti-Sterlite Protests

When Rajini had approached Santhosh's bed in the hospital, the youth asked him “Who are you?”. To this, the actor replied, “It’s me, Rajinikanth.” This video immediately became viral, and earned criticism from the actor's fans.

Santhosh was then forced to clarify that he did not mean to insult the actor-turned-politician by his ardent fans.

Also Read: Sterlite Plant Fuels Cancer, Say Residents But No State Report Yet

(Published in an arrangement with The News Minute)

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