Sikh24.com – Filmmaker terrorised for exposing caste slavery in Tamil Nadu

Divya Bharathi faces death threats, criminal charges for documentary

Arvin Valmuci

Chennai, 9 August 2017. After releasing a documentary exposing in vivid detail the daily lives of manual scavengers in Tamil Nadu, 26-year-old filmmaker Divya Bharathi has been slapped with criminal charges, including cyber terrorism.

“Kakkoos,” a nearly two-hour documentary, shows how countless sanitation workers remain engaged in the ancient, caste-based practice of removal and disposal of human excrement using bare hands and feet.

The Hindu caste system traditionally relegated the work to those considered “outcastes” and consequently treated them as Untouchables. Bharathi believes more than 200,000 people are currently engaged in manual scavenging in Tamil Nadu alone.

On August 3, Divya Bharathi was charged by Madurai police with violating Indian Penal Codes Section 153A and Section 505 (1)(b) as well as the Information Technology Act (2006) Section 66F.

The first two laws prohibit “promoting enmity between different groups… on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever” and publishing statements “with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility.”

The third law prohibits cyber terrorism.

Charges were filed after complaints by Dr Krishnasamy, a wealthy political leader and former member of Tamil Nadu’s Legislative Assembly. “In my documentary, I had listed 10 castes, including Pallar, whose members are involved in manual scavenging,” explained Bharathi.

“It upset K. Krishnasamy of Puthiya Tamilagam, mainly representing the Scheduled Caste (SC) Dalit subgroup Pallar. He was upset that his caste was named. Krishnasamy has moved ahead economically and socially and he thinks it is damaging for this reputation.”

“‘Kakkoos’ reveals the miserable condition of these poor souls who are forced into this life of slavery,” said Bhajan Singh, Founding Director of Organization for Minorities of India.

“Yet instead of being offended by the reality of the suffering of the oppressed, powerful people have taken offense at the documentation of the truth of the ground realities. Divya is a courageous young woman who deserves our praise and our support.”

Bharathi has also endured a wave of abuse. “My phone number was made public on Facebook and other social media,” she said on August 7. “After this public threat, I received around 2000 calls abusing and threatening to rape and kill me.”

She blames the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for instigating both the abuse and the criminal charges, linking Krishnasamy to BJP president Amit Shah.

“[Krishnasamy] emerged as a Dalit leader but now is an ally of BJP,” said Bharathi. “He welcomed the beef ban… and held a meeting welcoming Amit Shah in Madurai. It is a well-organised political attack by the BJP by using Krishnasamy.”

In a video posted to Facebook on August 3, the young filmmaker stated: “Caste system should be annihilated as Ambedkar told…. The BJP, which supports caste, is bringing the fake cases against me…. I request all to raise your voice against these regressive forces.”

“Kakkoos” has faced strong opposition since its release in February 2017. Film screenings in Tamil Nadu have been repeatedly blocked by the state government; according to Bharathi, the government of neighboring Kerala has even acted to prevent screenings as far away as Delhi.

Screenings were cancelled, reported Bharathi, “on grounds that it would become a law and order issue.”

“Rather than acknowledging the problem of manual scavenging and working to correct it, the Indian State is focused on concealing it by brushing it under the rug and gagging anyone who talks about it,” said Pieter Friedrich, an analyst of South Asian Affairs.

“Divya Bharathi’s experience is a horrifying reminder that not only is caste a very current issue, but that Indian citizens lack protection of other very basic human rights such as freedom of speech. The State should never possess the power to censor a film, especially an offensive film.

Of course, in this case, the only reason the film is offensive is because it shows the truth about how people are being oppressed by the government with total impunity.”

India’s 2011 census documented 794,000 cases of manual scavenging across the country. According to government figures, the practice was most common in Maharashtra, followed by Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Tripura and Karnataka.

Various laws at state and national levels have addressed the ongoing practice of manual scavenging. Most notably, the Indian Parliament passed “The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.”
However, implementation of the laws is severely lacking. According to Bharathi: “Neither the central government nor the state government is interested in rehabilitating manual scavengers…. In my film, I have proved that all sanitary workers are manual scavengers.”

In “Kakkoos,” Advocate Saravanan stated: “The 2013 act that bans humans cleaning human shit says that 44 safety tools are to be provided to the workers. Of these 44, do you know what our workers have?”

The film then cuts to a montage of over a dozen workers explaining: “They have given us nothing. Not even gloves.” Earlier in the film, describing his job duties, a worker said: “Last week, we went into the sewage canal, with slime till our neck.

We cleaned with our hands only.” Another worker stated: “Gloves, boots are all there safely in the office. They are not given to us. If we ask, they will dismiss us.”

Interviewed by Bharathi, social activist Padam Narayanan explained the municipal selection process for sanitation workers: “When the Chennai Metro water hires people through contractors… When they come for job selection, first they have to remove all their clothes, with just a loin around the waste.

Then they have to drink alcohol. Then they will be sent inside the sewage ditches by hanging on a rope. When that person is inside, the others outside will count….

Those people who can hold their breath for 3 to 4 minutes will be selected. Others are not qualified…. In no other part of the world, you would have ever seen such recruitment method.”

“Manual scavenging is a scourge on Indian society,” remarked Friedrich as he emphasized the widespread extent of the practice. “This is not an issue of a few people being caught up in an obsolete method of sanitation.

As ‘Kakkoos’ shows, employment of people as manual scavengers is common practice by the sanitation departments of some of the largest cities in Tamil Nadu.

The sanitation methodology is inseparably connected to the belief in the caste system, as workers in the film testify, safety equipment is available and yet denied to them. These oppressed people are intentionally, deliberately kept as so-called ‘Untouchables’ by compelling them to work in dangerous, filthy conditions.”

In a 2014 report, Human Rights Watch (HRW) explained that many people are forced to perform manual scavenging. “Manual scavenging can constitute forced labor because entry into this practice is entirely caste-designated….

Consequences for leaving manual scavenging include community threats of physical violence and displacement — and even threats and harassment by local officials mandated by law to end the practice, who instead withhold wages and threaten eviction from homes,” stated the report.

Furthermore, reported HRW, “Government village councils and municipalities have engaged in caste-based recruitment to clean open defecation areas.” According to HRW’s South Asia Director, Meenakshi Ganguly: “People work as manual scavengers because their caste is expected to fulfill this role, and are typically unable to get any other work.”

“Only if we get rid of the caste from our minds can we think of providing other jobs to these people,” stated Bezwada Wilson in “Kakkoos.” Wilson is a cofounder of Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), which describes itself as a movement to eradicate manual scavenging in India.

As reported on SKA’s website: “The caste system dictates that those born into a particular Dalit sub-caste should engage in manual scavenging and should remain doing so throughout their lives, prohibiting them to lead a dignified life in the community….

Apart from being employed by individual households there are many manual scavengers employed by the government for cleaning at the community dry latrines, Railway stations, government hospitals, etc.”

“The caste system retards all progress,” explained Arvin Valmuci, a communications coordinator for OFMI. “Caste retards economic progress, technological progress, social progress. It stifles innovation.

The Hindu scriptures require the downtrodden to perform the filthiest work of society in the most degrading manner for the benefit of the upper castes. Believers in this system have no incentive to improve conditions. The only way to fully eradicate manual scavenging is to utterly reject caste.”

Bhajan Singh demanded all charges against Bharathi be dropped immediately. “The duty of the government of Tamil Nadu is to protect Divya, not charge her,” said Singh.

“Instead of persecuting her to try and silence her, the government should be acting to completely remedy its atrocious caste-based practices. Instead of harassing her, the government should be hailing her as a hero for standing up against oppression.”

http://www.sikh24.com/2017/08/09/filmmaker-terrorized-for-exposing-caste-slavery-in-tamil-nadu/#.WY001ulLfIU

The Times of India – EC bribery case: After 4 days of questioning, AIADMK leader T T V Dhinakaran arrested

New Delhi, 26 April 2017. Dhinakaran was called today for questioning at 5pm at the Crime Branch Inter State Cell office in Chanakyapuri and was arrested around midnight, Praveer Ranjan, joint commissioner of police (crime), said.

His longtime friend Mallikarjuna has also been arrested after being quizzed for the second day on the trot, he said.

Mallikarjuna had been accompanying Dhinakaran everywhere ever since Sukesh Chandrsekar, the middleman in the EC bribery case, was arrested, police said.

Dhinakaran had on Monday confessed to meeting Chandrsekar, assuming he was a high court judge.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/ec-bribery-case-after-4-days-of-questioning-aiadmk-leader-ttv-dhinakaran-arrested/articleshow/58369122.cms

The Hindustan Times – AIADMK crisis: Trust vote won but Palaniswami government in Tamil Nadu faces trust deficit

K V Lakshmana

Chennai, 19 February 2017. Jailed AIADMK chief VK Sasikala’s proxy Edapaddi Palaniswami may have won the trust vote in Tamil Nadu but his government’s legitimacy and longevity is in doubt, political observers say.

Picked as the CM candidate after Sasikala’s march to the top job was cut short by the Supreme Court which found her guilty in a corruption case, Palaniswami is legally on a sound footing but faces a trust deficit and a crisis of credibility.

The ugly scenes in the state assembly on Sunday and the days of political drama before it have done little to inspire confidence among the people of Tamil Nadu.

“For how long the government stays stable, it remains to be seen,” political analyst Sumanth C Raman told HT.

The Sasikala camp, for now, has managed to keep its flock together.

“Legally, it (the government) is going to stand. It has got 122 votes and no one has disputed the number. It is legally right but not morally,” he said.

In 234-member Tamil Nadu House, 118 is the majority mark.

The government would have had more legitimacy if the Opposition was not thrown out of the House during the trust vote, which was shrouded in secrecy. Media was not allowed to watch the proceedings and even the audio feed, as is the practice in the southern state, was not available.

“Even before the trust vote, the Edapaddi government had little credibility. The presence of Opposition would have given more legitimacy to the trust vote,” said Professor Ramu Manivannan of Madras University.

All the 88 DMK members were evicted while eight of the Congress and one of the IUML walked out.

Edapaddi, in fact, should thank rival O Panneerselvam for staying on and voting.

“Had OPS (Panneerselvam) walked out and ensured that the entire Opposition stayed out and the verdict was 122-0, the message would have been far more damaging,” Manivannan said.

Panneerselvam, who rose in revolt against Sasikala, could have formed a larger political alliance. “But then, his mentors have told him what to do but not how to do,” said Manivannan.

Opinion is divided over the future of Panneerselvam, who turned a hero in public eye for his opposition to Sasikala taking over the government and the party after chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s death on December 5.

He has a tough job at hand, to turn public support into a potent political force.

“It will depend on him, how best can he salvage the situation with the public support but we also have to see how long this support lasts,” Raman said.

But, all is not lost for the former caretaker chief minister. The election commission is looking into complaints against Sasikala’s election as the AIADMK general secretary.

If the order goes against Sasikala, all party appointments made by her would be scrapped. It will give a big boost to the Panneerselvam faction in the party.

As far as the government goes, said Raman, its initial days would be of an uneasy stability.

It would be a big achievement if the government would last for more than two years, said Manivannan, adding Tamil Nadu could face elections sooner than 2021, when the term of the current assembly ends.

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/aiadmk-crisis-trust-vote-won-but-palaniswami-govt-in-tamil-nadu-faces-trust-deficit/story-ozayeojd98kuK40yM1XKCN.html

The Times of India – Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa joins Pannerselvam camp, says her ‘political journey begins today’

Julie Mariappan

Chennai, 14 February 2017. Late Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s niece Deepa Jayakumar on Tuesday night met chief minister O Pannerselvam at her aunt’s memorial on the Marina Beach here and said, “My political journey begins today.”

After the meeting, Deepa told mediapersons that Panneerselvam and she would work like “two arms of AIADMK.”

Deepa, who had earlier welcomed the Supreme Court verdict upholding the conviction of AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala and her family members in the disproportionate assets case, said on Tuesday night, “They (Sasikala and others) are going to, where they have to.”

Earlier in the day, Deepa told reporters that she was always saying that Sasikala would not be accepted as leader of the party, primarily because she had impending verdict in the assets case.

“People also welcome the verdict as they do not want to see Sasikala to lead them and against her,” she said, adding that Jayalalithaa disliked her close aide from taking positions in the party. However, the dominance of Sasikala in the party had many of her supporters gaining party posts, and many relieved according to her whims.

“Our Amma (Jayalalithaa) did not like them (Sasikala clan) at all. None has any second thought about it. Sasikala had brought harm to the leader, and cheated her only to gain power and money. The court verdict has put an end to this,” she said.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/chennai/jayalalithaas-niece-deepa-joins-pannerselvam-camp-says-her-political-journey-begins-today/articleshow/57152190.cms

The Hindu – Sasikala convicted in Disproportionate Assets case; can’t contest elections for 10 years

Sasikala and her co-accused, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran, to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore each

Krishnadas Rajagopal

New Delhi, 14 February 2017. The Supreme Court on Tuesday set aside AIADMK general secretary V K Sasikala’s acquittal by the Karnataka High Court in the Jayalalithaa disproportionate assets case and “restored in full” the trial court conviction of September 2014.

A Bench of Justices P C Ghose and Amitava Roy also set aside the acquittal of her two co-accused J Ilavarasi and V N Sudhakaran and restored their conviction in the case. The SC said the appeals filed by Karnataka government and others, including DMK leader K Anbazhagan, against the former Chief Minister has abated after her death on December 5, 2016.

The Supreme Court ordered Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran to surrender forthwith before the trial court concerned.

Even after Sasikala comes out after serving her four-year sentence, she would be disqualified to contest elections for the next six years as per the Supreme Court judgment in Lily Thomas versus Union of India of July 2013.

The voluminous main judgment authored by Justice Ghose held that the trial court conviction of the three accused, A2 to A4, on 27 September 2014 has been restored in full along with the consequent directions, including payment of fine and attachment of properties.

Fine of Rs 10 crore

The trial court had sentenced Sasikala, Ilavarasi and Sudhakaran under Section 109 IPC read with Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, abetment of criminal misconduct of a public servant, to simple imprisonment for a period of four years each and pay a fine of Rs. 10 crore each.

In case of default, they would have to further suffer imprisonment for another year.

For the offence of criminal conspiracy leading to criminal misconduct of a public servant (Section 120 (B) IPC read with Section 13 (2)) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, all three were sentenced to simple imprisonment for six months and a fine of Rs. 10,000 each.

Special Judge John Michael Cunha had ordered the attachment properties held by Indo-Doha Chemicals and Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd, Signora Enterprises Pvt Ltd, Ramraj Agro Mills Ltd, Meadow Agro Farms, Riverway Agro Products.

The prosecution had alleged that these companies were operating “for and on behalf of Ms. Jayalalithaa.” The prosecution had submitted that, in essence, these companies were used as receptacles of ill-gotten cash for which no explanation was given during investigation nor during the trial.

In his separate but concurring judgment, Justice Roy said in the open court that he had expressed the court’s “deep concern about escalating corruption in the society.”

The judgment has come seven months since the Supreme Court reserved the appeal for judgment on June 7, 2016 after 20 days of hearing arguments. The hearing had started on February 23 last year.

The Bench had issued notice in July 2015 on the appeals. In its arguments, the State government had argued that the bare fact that it was neither considered nor ignored as the “sole prosecuting agency” in the corruption case would by itself vitiate the High Court judgment.

The State wanted the Supreme Court to address on what would be the effect of not repairing this omission throughout the appeal hearings in the High Court till they were disposed off.

The State’s document filed by advocate Joseph Aristotle and settled by senior advocate B V Acharya, had contended that its appeals were not vitiated as the duly appointed Public Prosecutor was “never given the opportunity” of an oral hearing.

His role was reduced to just handing over written submission, that too on the orders of the Supreme Court, at the fag end of the appeals in the High Court.

The State government pointed out that the acquittal can be set aside by just correcting the “totalling mistake” to show that the disproportionate assets of the accused comes to Rs 16.32 crore, that is 76.7% of the income as against the 8.12% arrived at by the High Court.

“Consequently, the judgment of acquittal is liable to be converted into one of conviction even as per the purported principle in Krishnanand Agnihotri’s case,” the State government contended.

The 1977 case law, quoted by the High Court, had held that an offence was not made out if disproportionate assets was found to be less than 10% of the income. It said the logic does not apply in this case in which the disproportionate assets run to crores.

‘No authority to interfere in TN’s affairs’

The defence counsel had argued that Karnataka had no authority to “interfere in the internal affairs of Tamil Nadu” and a violation of the federal scheme enshrined in the Constitution. They had invoked Article 162 of the Constitution, which prescribed that the executive power of the State Executive is co-extensive with that of the State Legislature.

The defence had argued that only Tamil Nadu had the “exclusive jurisdiction” to file the special leave petition or appeal against the Karnataka High Court judgment of acquittal on May 11, 2015 as Ms. Jayalalithaa was a “public servant of the State of Tamil Nadu.”

The defence had asked whether Karnataka was entitled to maintain the petition against the High Court’s judgment setting aside the confiscation of assets of five companies which the prosecution alleged were owned by the accused persons. That too when there was no charge levelled under the Benami Prohibition Act.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Sasikala-convicted-in-DA-case-cant-contest-elections-for-10-years/article17300544.ece?homepage=true

The Asian Age – 129 MLAs should be released from resort, allowed to meet people: Tamil Nadu CM O Panneerselvam

On a query as to how confident he was about forming the government, he said, ‘When the Assembly convenes, I will prove my majority there.’

Chennai, 13 February 2017. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O Panneerselvam on Sunday said the 129 MLAs, staying in a private resort near Chennai, should be released and they should meet people in their respective constituencies to get a sense of the public mood.

He said the legislators should be released from the resort and allowed to meet the people in their respective constituencies.

Panneerselvam also alleged that by shedding crocodile tears, Sasikala kept the MLAs on her side.

“Let her release them…so that they can go to their respective consitutencies and meet the people and take a good decision,” he told reporters in Chennai.

Stressing that the Tamil people were well aware of the current political scenario, he said, “Not only in India, people across the globe are monitoring the situation.”

Noting that he was working as per his conscience, Panneerselvam said he did not invite any of his Cabinet colleagues when he had gone to meditate at Amma’s (Jayalalithaa) memorial last week after which he said he was forced to quit from the Chief Minister’s post.

Asserting that he was always a staunch loyalist of Jayalalithaa, Panneerselvam said, “In the last 20 years not even once has Amma criticised me.”

On whether the administration had come to a standstill due to the ongoing crisis, he said it was not true as he has been meeting government officials everyday.

“Every day I am in touch with the officials. Day before yesterday, the Chief Secretary and DGP met me and we discussed several issues. Tomorrow, I’m going to the Secretariat,” he said.

He said Deepak and Deepa, the niece of late leader J Jayalalithaa, were the only blood relations of Jayalalithaa.

“When Amma’s mortal remains were in the hospital on the night of December 5, she was not allowed to pay her respects even at that time,” he alleged.

To a query on the assets of Jayalalithaa, he recalled it was her wish that all her assets go to the party.

On a query as to how confident he was about forming the government, he said, “When the Assembly convenes, I will prove my majority there.”

On the press conference addressed by AIADMK chief Sasikala, he asked why she did not meet the press when Jayalalithaa was hospitalised and why was she speaking to reporters now.

Meanwhile, another AIADMK MP extended his support to Panneerselvam, taking the total number of Parliamentarians in his favour to 11.

AIADMK MP R Parthiban representing Theni district called on O Panneerselvam at his residence in Greenways Road, Chennai later this evening and offered his support to him.

http://www.asianage.com/india/all-india/130217/release-129-mlas-from-resort-allow-them-to-meet-people-tn-cm-panneerselvam.html

The Hindu – More AIADMK leaders switch camps, back Panneerselvam

One Minister, 4 MPs come out in support of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

Udhav Naig

Chennai, 12 February 2017. In a dramatic turn to the ongoing political turmoil in Tamil Nadu, two prominent members from AIADMK interim general secretary V K Sasikala’s camp, Education Minister K Pandiarajan and party spokesperson C Ponnaiyan, switched sides on Saturday to join Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, citing a groundswell of support for the latter.

In a further boost to the rebel camp, four MPs, P R Sundaram from Namakkal, K Ashok Kumar from Krishnagiri, R Vanaroja from Tiruvannamalai and V Sathyabhama from Tiruppur, also came out in support of Mr Panneerselvam.

Cryptic tweet

While the Namakkal and Krishnagiri MPs were the first to turn up at the CM’s Greenways Road residence here, Mr Pandiarajan’s arrival was a shot in the arm for Mr. Panneerselvam.

Not very long after posting a cryptic tweet that he would listen to the ‘collective voice of the people’, Mr Pandiarajan said he was backing Mr Panneerselvam because he did not want the AIADMK to split. “Over the last few days, there has been a clear groundswell of support for Mr Panneerselvam.

One could also detect a kind of revulsion against the choice of Sasikala as the legislature party leader,” he said.

“He has earned the goodwill of the people through his work during Cyclone Vardah and the oil spill. I realised it will be possible to meet the people during elections and seek votes only when the party is headed by OPS,” said Mr Pandiarajan.

Earlier, he had defended the decision of the party to elect Ms Sasikala as the head of AIADMK’s legislative party.

The Minister added that he was confident that Mr Panneerselvam would be elected as the Chief Minister once again, by the members of the legislative Assembly. “More MLAs will come [here] and OPS will be elected,” he said.

Later in the evening, Mr Ponnaiyan also met the Chief Minister along with his supporters. The senior AIADMK leader, who had also earlier backed Ms Sasikala, challenged her nomination as the party’s general secretary.

“According to AIADMK rules, only party cadre can select the general secretary. MLAs are the people’s representatives and they must take feedback from their constituents,” Mr Ponnaiyan said, adding that only Mr Panneerselvam had the capacity to lead the party.

During the day, former AIADMK MLA Manoj Pandian also announced that the lawyers’ wing of the AIADMK had extended its support to Mr. Panneerselvam.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/More-AIADMK-leaders-switch-camps-back-Panneerselvam/article17289723.ece

The Hindu – Panneerselvam revolted only after losing CM post: AIADMK

At a time when a political change is happening in the state, the Governor goes from Coimbatore to Delhi and then to Mumbai.

Chennai 8 February 2017. The revolt by Tamil Nadu former Chief Minister O Panneerselvam against AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala is being opportunistic and fuelled by other forces, said a spokesperson of AIADMK on Wednesday.

“Only when his Chief Minister post was taken away he is raising his voice. But that, too after he had submitted his resignation and sending a ‘thank you for your cooperation letter’ to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Governor Ch. Vidyasagar Rao,” Avadi Kumar, spokesperson for AIADMK told IANS.

On Tuesday night Mr Panneerselvam dropped a bombshell with his dramatic statement that he was forced to resign as the Chief Minister after meditating for 40 minutes at late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s memorial.

Mr Kumar said Mr Panneerselvam wrote a letter to Mr Modi after resigning his post on his own choice and there was no compulsion on him not to write such a letter.

“He was acting alone, pursuing his own interests. The party did not gain any goodwill by his acts but on the other hand the party had to face the brunt of the government actions, like the police action against the Jallikattu-bull taming sport protestors,” Mr. Kumar said.

Pointing out Mr Panneerselvam’s own statement that he was asked to propose the name of Ms Sasikala for the post of general secretary and later for Chief Minister position, Mr Kumar said: “What prevented him from opposing the move at the first instance itself.”

Mr Kumar also wondered as to the reason for the continued absence of the Governor at a time when there is only a caretaker government in the state.

“We did not know where to reach him and give him the letter of support of legislators for Sasikala, who can stake her claim to form the next government,” Mr Kumar said.

At a time when a political change is happening in the state, the Governor goes from Coimbatore to Delhi and then to Mumbai.

He said this shows that the BJP and the Centre are fishing in the troubled waters.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/Panneerselvam-revolted-only-after-losing-CM-post-AIADMK/article17245693.ece

The Asian Age – Sasikala Natarajan to take over as Tamil Nadu Chief Minister

Once sworn in, Sasikala will be the third woman CM of the state after Janaki Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa

S Thirunavukarasu

Chennai, 6 February 2017. Two months to the day that charismatic J. Jayalalithaa passed away after suffering a cardiac arrest, V K Sasikala, the former’s close aide for 30 years, was on Sunday unanimously elected AIADMK legislature party leader, replacing incumbent O. Panneerselvam.

Ms Sasikala is likely to take the oath as chief minister of Tamil Nadu on February 9.

The much-awaited meeting of the AIADMK legislature party resolved to hand over the CM’s mantle to 61-year-old Sasikala, who came into contact with the late Jayalalithaa in 1983.

Her election brings back a long-held tradition in the party by which both a single person leads both the party and the government.

Interestingly, outgoing chief minister O. Panneerselvam, who had stood in for the late Jayalalithaa twice due to court cases and was sworn in after her death on December 5, proposed Ms Sasikala’s name for the top post in the state.

Once sworn in, Ms Sasikala will be the third woman CM of the state after Janaki Ramachandran and J. Jayalalithaa.

“I, O. Panneerselvam, Tamil Nadu CM and AIADMK treasurer, propose a resolution to elect ‘Chinamma’ as leader of the AIADMK legislature party. I propose the resolution since we all feel that the head of the party and the government should be one and the same. And I have resigned as chief minister,” he told the meeting, amid thunderous applause from the legislators.

As Mr Panneerselvam, who held discussions with Ms Sasikala at the Poes Garden residence before the crucial meeting, moved the resolution which was passed unanimously, AIADMK cadres outside hall the went into celebratory mode, bursting crackers and distributing sweets. Ms Sasikala later said it was “my dear brother” Panneerselvam who had first proposed that “I should take over as the CM and party supremo”.

“The AIADMK government will follow the principles of Amma. We will always work for the welfare of the people,” she said.

“I was not in a position to accept the request (by OPS) and I agreed to take over as party supremo only after repeated requests from the partymen. Every partyman who met me during the last two months insisted that I should take over as the CM. Left with no option, I decided to heed to the request,” she said.

http://www.asianage.com/india/politics/060217/sasikala-natarajan-to-take-over-as-tamil-nadu-cm.html

BBC News – Why India bull-taming protest may not be just about bulls

Soutik Biswas, India correspondent

New Delhi, 21 January 2017. India, wrote author VS Naipaul, is a country of a million little mutinies, reeling with rage and revolt.

One such mutiny has brewed almost all of this week in southern Tamil Nadu state, where people have been protesting against a ban on a traditional bull-taming contest, known as jallikattu. They say the ban is an attack on their culture and identity.

On Saturday evening, a harried government scrambled to bring in a temporary law that would allow the sport to resume.

The protesters have been mollified for the moment, but most say they want a “permanent solution”. The embers of this unique protest will continue to flicker because they were not merely about bulls alone.

For one, the recent protests were unique in the recent history of this thriving southern state, and even India.

Starting on Tuesday, tens of thousands of largely peaceful men and women, mostly students and workers, held an unprecedented beachside protest in the capital, Chennai.

They shared food and water, slept in the open, and cleaned up the beach in the morning. It was a remarkable exhibition of responsible public dissent, largely free of invective and incendiary rhetoric, which usually mark protests like these.

Outside the capital, millions protested across Tamil Nadu. Public transport was affected; schools, colleges and businesses were shut.

Oscar-winning music composer and Tamil Nadu’s most well-known celebrity, A R Rahman, fasted in support. Cricket and movie stars backed the movement. An overexcited newspaper report has even called it India’s Arab Spring.

That may well be an exaggeration. But there is little doubt, as a local journalist says, that what began as small protests against the arrest of 200 young men opposing the ban last week snowballed into a “mass movement, leaderless and largely peaceful”.

Thousands of sturdy, young men chase bulls, mostly owned by the temples, for prizes during jallikattu held during the harvest festival of Pongal in January. The animals are released from pens, with men supposed to hold on to the animal’s hump for about 15-20 metres or three jumps of the bull to win the prize.

Animal rights activists, who support the ban, say the sport is cruel to animals. Nonsense, say the bull owners and supporters: the sport is a 2,000-year-old tradition and a way of life with people in large swathes of Tamil Nadu. They say the animals are, by and large, well looked after.

Opinions diverge greatly on the subject. Federal minister Maneka Gandhi has called the festival a day of “violence and killing” where “boys jump on each one (bulls) and try to tear its horns off”. She wrote: “Everyone in India looks down upon it, as civilised people should”.

Her comments have attracted a lot of flak. Shyam Krishnakumar, a research associate with Vision India Foundation, says: “This statement typifies a cosmopolitan elitism that considers itself to be modern and progressive and rural India to be backward and barbaric, in need of being saved.

“There is little effort taken to understand and sincerely engage with their lives and worldviews, there is merely the civilising mission to be force-fed to everyone, for their own good of course.”

‘Taking the bull by the horns’

Activists and bull owners have fought in the courts over the fate of the sport for more than a decade. In 2014, the Supreme Court banned it, and last year upheld the ban after a fresh challenge.

But the January protests, “taking the bull by the horns”, as my favourite headline says, is unrivalled in recent memory.

They have been spontaneous and not led by any political party. They have cut across Tamil Nadu’s often fractious caste and class lines. Participants include students, info-tech professionals, factory workers, farmers, anti-nuclear activists, and many other ordinary folk.

And the protests are no longer just about bulls. There are people angry with the recent currency ban and the shortage of cash that it caused. There is also angst about a controversial judicial order making it compulsory to play the national anthem in theatres and for audiences to stand when it is being played.

There are people who have protested against a nuclear plant in the state and against GM crops. There are irate drought-hit farmers who feel they are being deprived of their share of water from a river that their state shares with neighbouring Karnataka.

The protesters share, say many, deeper anxieties about what they feel are assaults on local traditions and cultures by the federal government, judiciary and elites in Delhi. Many of them say they are resisting attempts to “homogenise ” India by federal fiats. The protests, it is said, represent an inchoate movement, almost a harbinger of things to come.

“Jallikattu is just a trigger. This huge protest is a manifestation of the trust deficit between Tamil people and the federal government and the judiciary,” says historian A R Venkatachalapathy.

“They even distrust the media in Delhi which portrays Tamils as some exotic people with weird customs.

“Many don’t trust Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP government’s muscular nationalism and recent moves like the currency ban.”

The Supreme Court may yet take a dim view of Saturday’s development and reinstate the ban in the near future. That will surely lead to fresh conflict. But this week’s protests reflect fears about globalisation and cultural domination, anxieties about loss of identity and living, and authorities who don’t care. They will not go away soon.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-38687248