Complaint raises a stink, ABVP says ‘misunderstanding’
The head of RSS student arm ABVP was accused in a police complaint of urinating outside an elderly widow’s flat to intimidate her but Chennai police registered an FIR only on Saturday, a fortnight later, after a controversy broke out.
The accused, Subbiah Shanmugam, national president of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad, also happens to be a well-known surgical oncologist.
Complainant Balaji Vijayaraghavan, nephew of 62-year-old widow Chandra Sampath whose flat is just above Subbiah’s, accuses the surgeon of trying to secure without a written agreement the parking space allotted to his aunt at the apartment complex.
The ABVP said on Saturday night the complaint had been withdrawn. Balaji could not be immediately reached for his comment.
Although the ABVP is a student group, its presidents are usually teachers. Subbiah, a professor at the Government Kilpauk Medical College, claimed the charges were “fabricated”. He, however, confirmed there was a “petty issue” at his apartment complex, located on Chennai’s southwestern fringes.
Subbiah did not comment on CCTV footage in which a person resembling him appears to be urinating near the door of an apartment, and on it.
Balaji, himself well-known as a stand-up comedian, told The Telegraph that Subbiah had been harassing his aunt for a month.
“Since early this year, he has been asking to use our parking space. We wanted a written rental agreement so there would be no issue later — but I don’t think he was interested in that. For the past month or so, things have been scary,” he said.
“The guards told us that he broke the signage (allotting the parking space to Chandra, who does not have a car) at the parking lot. We found garbage outside her flat. Once, a used face mask was thrown.
“We first thought these were children playing pranks. A few weeks ago we found a semen-like substance outside the door. Around the same time, my aunt would get calls on the intercom (available for communication between apartments) from a man saying he would bring chicken to her house. She is a vegetarian and was upset by this.”
Chandra lives alone in Flat 210 on the second floor at the Lancor Courtyard apartments in Nanganallur. Subbiah lives in Flat 110, a floor below her. Chandra’s son stays elsewhere in the city, and he and Balaji visit her every few days to check on her.
Balaji, who runs an online platform for Carnatic Music events apart from his comedy shows, lives 20km away at another end of the city.
“On July 10 night, our (Chandra’s) neighbour called me to say that something had happened. That evening at 5pm, he had installed a CCTV camera outside his flat as he has an ailing mother at home and he and his wife are out for work during the day,” Balaji said.
“At 8.21pm, the CCTV recorded the doctor urinating on my aunt’s door. It was then that I decided to complain to the police... We don’t want a lengthy legal process. We just want the safety of my aunt and a written apology from him. He needs cognitive behavioural therapy so he can return to doing his duty to society as a doctor.”
On July 11, Balaji went to the Adambakkam police station and handed over a written complaint but was not given a receipt.
“The policemen were hostile. They did not want to listen to me. I did not want to pressure them as there have been two murders in the area, which should be their priority,” Balaji said.
“I just wanted a procedure to be followed. I was forced to go to Facebook as I feared that the doctor would use his clout to cause further problems.”
The post, which he later deleted, went viral. The CCTV footage was run on a Tamil news website but was later taken down.
“On July 17, an officer from the police station called me and said his seniors had recommended that a senior officer investigate the case,” Balaji said.
On July 24, he collected the Community Service Register receipt, dated July 17, that the police issue to people lodging complaints of non-cognisable offences.
Subbiah replied to this newspaper’s WhatsApp queries, saying: “Fabricated, built over petty issue, we are solving internally within the Apartment Association.”
After Congress student wing NSUI ran an online campaign on Friday with the hashtag #ShameOnABVP, the ABVP accused it of “running a malicious, derogatory propaganda against Dr Subbiah Shanmugam with a fake video purported as a harassment (sic)”.
The ABVP added that the “libellous” claims “have invited legal action” against leaders of the Congress, NSUI and the Indian Youth Congress.
“The two families have discussed this within their housing society and have concluded that the harassment allegations were caused due to misunderstandings and are untrue,” ABVP general secretary Nidhi Tripathi said.
In a video, Tripathi tried to explain away the CCTV footage claiming Subbiah was resting outside Chandra’s door during his exercise routine. Balaji said his family had had no direct conversation with Subbiah since the incident.
Close to midnight on Saturday, the ABVP issued a statement saying the complaint “has been withdrawn by the complainant Shri Balaji Vijayaraghavan from the local police station”. It added: “Misunderstandings between two families now stand cleared and all issues between the two parties have now resolved.”