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Act To Prevent Authoritarian Terrorism
<span style='color:red'>Act to Prevent Authoritarian Terrorism!</span>

By SS Mani

In an article in 'The Hindu' of July 2, 200l, a former Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, VR Krishna Iyer, charged Jayalalitha with "authoritarian terrorism" when she arrogantly arrested M. Karunanidhi in the middle of the night. The Judge wrote "If allowed to run berserk, this authoritarian terrorism will make Bharat a bedlam." He further warned "One day any Chief Minister with political impets and police bullies may perpetrate a similar crime on our Prime Minister himself."

Apparently, the Prime Minister will have to wait his turn. The Chief Minister is busy using the town of Kanchipuram for target practice. Having already detonated her vindictive outburst against the Sankaracharyas, Chief Minister Jayalalitha has decided that ordinary bhakthas of the Kanchi Srimatam are first in line for her blitzkrieg.

How else can one describe the barrage of charges being rained down upon defenseless people like Sundaresa Iyer and Raghu when there is not even a whiff of any prior offenses in their past?

One is a student of Rg Veda at the Mutt. The Government has yet to cite even one prior conviction to his account. For that matter, they do not proffer any tangible evidence of the charges they make against him now.

The other is a retiree from the Reserve Bank of India, a man who has traversed the span of his life in positions of responsibility, without a blemish to his good name. Following which, he has chosen to serve the people of Kanchipuram, indeed the whole of India, by helping to administer an institution that is engaged in the education, healthcare and uplift of millions, while preserving a cherished and hoary Bharatiya tradition.

Against such defenseless civilians, the Chief Minister has invoked the Goonda’s Act! Are these the people envisaged by that law? Here is what a perusal of the Goonda’s Act reveals:

“a Goonda is one who habitually commits dangerous activities, such as bootlegging, drug offences, immoral traffic (etc.).....in any manner prejudicial to maintenance of public order”

This law was written in order to protect the people against organized crime and habitual criminals. In what fevered delusion could Shri Raghu and Shri Sundaresa Iyer fit that description? What, Madam Chief Minister, have they ever done, that constitutes a danger to the maintenance of public order? What crimes, have they habitually committed?

Or is this invocation of the Goonda’s Act rather a relapse of one of Jayalalitha’s own criminal habits? Like the detention of MDMK leader Vaiko under POTA? Or the arrest of Tamil news editors for criticizing her government? Or indeed the instance Justice VR Krishna Iyer cited of Karunanidhi’s midnight arrest. Is this just another case of Jayalalitha’s authoritarian terrorism gone berserk?

By thrusting a succession of charges upon Raghu and Sundaresa Iyer, Jayalalitha, through cunning misuse of the law, brandishes the power endowed to her by the people like an AK-47 -- against the very citizens she is duty-bound to protect. She does not care if the charges she has framed up amount to a house of cards. She has no need to justify her arrests with evidence.

She can dispatch her gang of policemen to confiscate records, plant evidence and even falsify documents. Her mobsters get promoted to positions of power, even though they are known to be of dubious integrity. The man she appointed as Superintendent of Police in Kanchipuram had 13 arrest warrants against him. For that matter, Jayalalitha herself has a number of criminal cases pending against her. But the Goonda’s Act could never apply to these two!

Her Prosecutors will continue to present fictional evidence to the courts, defame her victims and willfully delay the wheels of justice, and no one demands an answer for any of it! Having gotten word from their Capo of what the case should conclude, they will merrily piece together “facts” to fit the conclusion. And if it turns out those “facts” are refuted. No problem! They’ll simply round up a new set of different “facts”. Who is going to question them, when the present axes of political power in the land have already said that this matter does not concern them?

Jayalalitha, by pointing the barrel of authority, can seize private assets at will, hampering her victims’ efforts to conduct their defense. Whether it is the Kanchi Mutt or the Kumbakonam Lingayat Mutt, her despotism goes unquestioned. (The Chief Minister returned the latter Mutt to its rightful heir suspiciously soon after it became clear that her own case will be tried in Karnataka, where the Lingayats are a powerful sect). Meanwhile, the constitutionally protected right to property suddenly escapes the Central Government’s memory.

“Why past midnight? Why a posse of police? The whole melodrama, prima facie, seems rudely insulting, insanely excessive and utterly lawless,” said the venerable judge. “Police power is a public trust and its brazen breach calls for condign punishment.” In 2001, after Karunanidhi’s arrest, his was a clarion call that the intelligentsia rallied around. At the Centre, demands were made to recall the Tamil Nadu governor, for countenancing such a police raj.

Three years later, when the same script is re-run, this time on a sanyasi with no political capital, no one steps forward to stop Jayalalitha’s rampage. (And as for ordinary citizens like Sundaresa Iyer, well they cannot even begin to count!)

These are not the days of benevolent kings, when swift justice was meted out to such offenders: their heads shaved, their faces marked with red and black spots, before a ceremonial ride on donkey-back through the city streets! There is no one to even shame Jayalalitha for her assault on Bharat, so it seems.

And so it is that Bharat, true to the learned Judge’s prediction, slouches towards bedlam, while those at the helm dither. Such Government Goonda-ism is bound to erode the public confidence, and consequently threaten public order, for the people’s concern has long been forgotten. A crime was committed in Kanchipuram on September the 3rd. Will the truth ever come out? Will the real culprits get punished? These pointed questions about the Sankarraman murder case are in acute danger of becoming rhetorical.

The people of Tamil Nadu have every right to expect their Government to deliver answers. But the way the investigation has been conducted by the Special Investigating team under CM Jayalalitha’s personal direction, the people of Tamil Nadu and the whole of India are increasingly losing hope.

The investigation stands tainted, first by the Government’s prejudicial actions, then because the police and the Chief Minister squandered their already threadbare credibility, by engaging in what amounts to authoritarian terrorism.

What Jayalalitha is doing to the Sankaracharyas & the Kanchi Mutt is similar to what Communist China did to the Dalai Lama and the non-violent Buddhist monasteries in Tibet in the 60s. At that time the first person to condemn China in strongest terms was our then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. It saddens me that the present Prime Minister is keeping quiet when the danger is faced by his own fellow-citizens, who have entrusted to him the charge of guarding their liberties.

Perhaps Jayalalitha calculates that in a so-called secular country like
India, with a Sikh as the Prime Minister, a Muslim as the President, and a Christian as the leader of the ruling party at the Centre, her assault on the institutions of docile, peace loving, and law-abiding Hindus, whether they number 700 million or more, will never be questioned by any authorities.

Are the President and the Prime Minister going to prove her right?
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Act to Prevent Authoritarian Terrorism

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