Senior Ramadoss arrested

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By OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
  • Published 1.05.13
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Chennai, April 30: PMK founder S. Ramadoss and a host of party functionaries were arrested today for violating a ban and leading a protest march in Villupuram, the fallout of an earlier violence in which party cadres torched Dalit houses on way to a conference venue.

A slew of cases, including rioting, had been filed against members of the Vanniyar Sangam — the parent caste organisation of the PMK, the party was formed out of it — in Mahabalipuram where they attacked Dalit homes last week.

To protest the police action in Mahabalipuram, Ramadoss today defied a ban and took out a procession in Villupuram, 170km south of Chennai. The party’s MLA, Kaduvetti Guru, who is also president of the Sangam, was picked up from the MLA hostel in Chennai.

Initially, the district administration had given permission to the PMK to go ahead with the protest but it was withdrawn last night following intelligence inputs that there might be another violence.

Chief minister Jayalalithaa had warned that stringent action would be taken against Ramadoss for violating the law in Mahabalipuram.

“Ramadoss had asked police to take action (against him) for speaking beyond the 10pm deadline (in Mahabalipuram). We accepted his challenge and filed a case against him,” Jayalalithaa told the Assembly yesterday.

On Thursday, PMK cadres were photographed climbing the famous Pallava shore temple in Mahabalipuram in violation of ASI rules and hoisting flags of the Sangam.

Once a much-sought-after electoral ally because of the captive Vanniyar vote, the PMK has weakened considerably since the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, failing to win even one of the six seats it contested in alliance with the AIADMK.

In the 2011 Assembly election, the PMK joined hands with the DMK, managing just three out of 30 seats the alliance contested. Ramadoss’s sole aim has been to get a Rajya Sabha seat for his son and former Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss but did not fructify as even the DMK does not have enough MLAs to re-elect Kanimozhi to the Rajya Sabha.

After the rout two years ago, Ramadoss has been claiming that he will not ally with either of the Dravidian majors.

Ramadoss also sought to play the caste card aggressively by accusing Dalit youths of running away with Vanniyar girls only to desert them.

MLA Guru, during a rally last year, had threatened to sever the heads of any non-Vanniyar who dared to marry a girl from the Vanniyar caste. In fact the aggressive posturing by the PMK resulted in over 50 Dalit houses being torched in Dharmapuri district last year after the father of a Vanniyar girl who had eloped with a Dalit boy committed suicide.

Since the Dharmapuri violence, Ramadoss has found himself politically isolated. He has been trying to befriend other caste-based outfits on the pretext of protesting the alleged misuse of the SC/ST act. Under this legislation, a complaint from a Dalit to the police about caste discrimination can lead to non-bailable arrests.

Ramadoss’s former ally, Dalit VCK leader Thol Thirumavalanan, has been campaigning to highlight the violence perpetrated against Dalits by the PMK cadres.

When Ramadoss was arrested the last time in 2002, his wife had pleaded with chief minister Jayalalithaa to release him because of ill health. Jayalalithaa had obliged but this time she is unlikely to let the PMK leader go in a hurry, especially when now he has so few friends. Ramadoss has been sent to judicial custody.