The Tamil Nadu (TN) Police have informed the Madras High Court that 86 people in the state were arrested so far. They were arrested for spreading communal hatred against the Muslim community linking them with the Covid-19.
The Additional Director General of Police in Tamil Nadu informed Justices MM Sundresh and R Hemalatha when they were hearing a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) filed by ASA Umar Farooq seeking action on over 700 complaints that filed in police stations across the state but had remained pending.
Umar Farooq also had filed a writ petition requesting directions from the High Court to concerning authorities to stop media and other agencies and individuals from communalizing Covid-19 issue.
In response, the DGP filed a counter-affidavit stating that in 159 cases were registered against 356 people thus far and amongst them, 86 were arrested.
After the news broke out that the Tablighi Jamaat’s congregation in New Delhi was linked with the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, communal propaganda was spread against the Muslim community, especially online in social media and being aired on broadcast media.
Media had also reported attacks on Muslims across the country which was a result of this propaganda.
In order to counter the propaganda, Muslims and Muslim organizations in Tamil Nadu registered complaints identifying the hate mongers. both online and offline. There were at least 700 such cases filed across the state.
As per the counter-affidavit filed by Director General of Police of Tamil Nadu, Madurai topped the list with the highest number of complaints failed with 19 cases. In Erode and Pudukottail, 17 and 12 complaints were registered respectively. In the state’s capital Chennai, 8 cases were filed against 8 accused people.
The High Court after noting the submissions has adjourned the hearing of the case to 13th July, 2020.
It is a welcome shift on the part of the police to act in favor of the religious minority community to safeguard them and their interests especially in times of rising Islamophobia across the country. However, it must be acknowledged that the Tamil Nadu Police is known to violate the rights of the citizens which is evident from it being top-ranked amongst South-Indian states in terms of custodial deaths. The custodial deaths of Jayaraj and Bennicks recently had spurred up debates about the actions of police in general and TN police in particular.