To Dr. Niranjan Mardi IAS, Additional Chief Secretary to Government, Department of Home, Prohibition and Excise Department Secretariat, Chennai 600009
Mr. Tripathy IPS Director General of Police, DGP office, Mylapore, Chennai - 600004
Sub: Misuse of Police machinery by Chennai Police Commissioner Mr.A.K.Viswanathan to attack Arappor Iyakkam and favour Minister S.P.Velumani
Dear Sir, Arappor Iyakkam is an independent voluntary organization working towards the cause of bringing about Transparency and Accountability in Governance and public institutions. Over the last 4 years, Arappor Iyakkam has been both engaging with the Government on improving quality of Government Hospitals, sewage treatment in metro water, restoration of waterbodies etc as well as voiced in clear terms wherever there is evidence of Corruption and initiated legal proceedings against Corruption of people at high places. We believe strongly in the Indian Constitution, its values and rights and we are an organization that follows the Gandhian path of non-violence.
The Chennai Police has been filing foisted cases against me and other office bearers of Arappor Iyakkam to harass, intimidate us, silence us and stop us from working on issues of Corruption. The Chennai police has filed 6 cases against us in the last 6 months for talking about Chennai Corporation Corruption and encroachment of waterbodies. The Police are calling us for numerous enquiries, asking irrelevant and personal questions as well. All these actions are a retaliation to the corruption expose of Mr S.P. Velumani, Minister for Local Administration and Chennai Corporation since September 2018. Ever since we moved the High court on the issue of Tender Corruption in Chennai Corporation, Minister S.P.Velumani has been using his people to file a lot of false complaints against us.
But what is more shocking is the misuse of the police machinery to attack our organization with a series of false cases by the Commissioner of Police of Greater Chennai Mr A.K.Viswanathan. I met Mr. A.K.Viswanathan, the Commissioner of Police for Chennai on 20/06/2019 to seek permission for a peaceful protest on the water crisis. During the conversation, the Commissioner said that he is under intense pressure from Mr S.P.Velumani to not give any permission for Arappor events and he also told me to meet with Minister S.P. Velumani to directly ‘sort-out’ the issues. Since, we have filed serious evidences of Corruption of the same Minister, I said that it will not be appropriate for us to meet him and politely declined the offer. I refused to compromise with Minister S.P Velumani as our activities are always done to peacefully fight corruption with a sense of responsibility and accountability, mindful of the constitutional spirit, ethics and propriety. Since then, Commissioner of Police Mr A.K.Viswanathan is leading a series of efforts to attack and harass the organization with various false cases, enquiries, arrest and stopping of our events. These foisted cases are a vindictive action to stifle our voice, harass and intimidate us and to divert our time and resources on unnecessarily defending ourselves in these foisted cases and not focus on the work of bringing about Transparency and Accountability in Governance.
I am detailing below the list of issues that we had to go through in the last 2 months since our meeting with Mr A.K.Viswanathan.
Misuse of Police machinery by COP Mr A.K.Viswanathan - Events
Mr A.K.Viswanathan refused permission for a peaceful protest on water crisis ‘Kelu Chennai Kelu’. Arappor Iyakkam later went to Madras High court and got permission for the peaceful protest and did it on 30/06/2019.
Arappor has been conducting an indoor awareness meet called ‘Know Your Rights’ for last 3 years and had planned for ‘Know Your Rights’ awareness event on 7th July 2019 at Purasawalkam. However, the hall owner at Purusawalkam at Daya Social Welfare Association was threatened by Viswanathan’s men and the hall owner was given a letter by local police to not allow our indoor event. Such indoor awareness event doesn’t require permission from police.
After changing the venue to Mahalakshmi Banquet Hall at Purasawalkam, the second Mandapam owner was also threatened by the AC of Ayanawaram to not allow the indoor awareness event. I have the audio evidence of DC Manoharan, Kilpauk acknowledging that they stopped the event under instruction from the top.
Arappor had planned Know Your Rights session in Thulasi party hall, Kolathur on 14/07/2019. However, the event was later cancelled because the local police threatened the hall owner to not allow the event. Then we shifted to another hall at M.R Maligai, Agaram
11 volunteers of Arappor Iyakkam were unlawfully detained by Tharamani Police for conducting a lake visit of the Kallukuttai lake. Later, an FIR (319 of 2019) was registered against the volunteers by police fixing a complainant and getting fake complaint from him. My name was included as A1 in the FIR in spite of me not being part of the lake visit. Arappor has been doing lake visits for last 3 years peacefully where we look at sewage discharge points, inlet and outlet point and other issues such as garbage etc and write a representation to Government to restore them. However, while police was present from the start of the visit and illegally detained the volunteers citing no permission, a complete foisted case by getting a complaint from stranger was filed.
Arappor’s Know Your Rights session was scheduled to be conducted on 14/07/2019 in M.R Maligai mandapam, Agaram. However, the local police threatened and harassed Mr.R.Mathiazhagan, the owner of the hall as well to not allow the event. The local police gave a written letter on 13/07/2019 to Mr. R. Mathiazhagan asking him to cancel the meeting. The event was cancelled.
The Semmanchery police filed an FIR (248 of 2019) against me for uploading a youtube video about reclassification of a waterbody for the construction of the Semmanchery police station. In the video, we showed the copy of the RTI from CMDA which showed the land has been reclassified from a waterbody to institutional area which is illegal as per supreme court and high court orders. The defacto complainant is the sub inspector of police. Clearly, this is conflict of interest. Because I have raised the charges of illegal reclassification, the sub inspector of the same police station which is being constructed in the waterbody area has filed FIR on me.
The Peravallur police filed an FIR (355 of 2019) based on a foisted complaint for not conducting Arappor’s Know Your Rights awareness event at M.R.Maligai, Agaram as per schedule while the Inspector himself was the one who threatened the owner of the hall to cancel the event. This is harassment at its peak
Arappor organized a Know Your Rights session in the residence of Balaji P in Mogappair East. Prior to the event, the Police called and harassed him as well. We managed to do the Know Your Rights awareness event there
Appeared in court for Criminal Defamation case. Mr A.K. Vishwanathan, the Commissioner of Police filed a false complaint with the state Government that I had defamed Mr S.P.Velumani while talking about Chennai corporation corruption in a sathiyam TV debate last year. Based on this, the city PP filed a case of criminal defamation on me. The Police commissioner knows very little about Chennai Corporation Corruption and has done this to please Mr.S.P.Velumani. It is shocking to see how the Commissioner in his official capacity is misusing the State Machinery to file a criminal defamation case in favour of Minister. It must be noted that Arappor Iyakkam has already filed cases regarding Corruption in the Hon’ble High Court and it is currently under investigation. The investigation on this criminal defamation case has been stayed by the Hon’ble Madras High court on 26/08/2019
Arappor scheduled a Know Your Rights session on 04/08/2019 in a volunteer’s residence in Krishna Puram, Ambattur. The local police visited the volunteer’s house on 31/07/2019 and threatened him to cancel the event.
The venue of the Know Your Rights was changed from Ambattur to a Volunteer’s residence in Virgumbakkam. However, few local police officials visited the Volunteer’s residence on 03/08/2019 and told that the event was an illegal one, and that he should not allow the event to be conducted in his residence. However, the volunteer had to tell them that it is only an awareness event for informing people on ways to use grievance redressal mechanisms of Corporation, training on RTI etc. We went ahead and conducted the event inspite of police pressure on 04/08/2019
The Peravallur police summoned me for an enquiry with reference to the FIR 355 of 2019 on 04/08/2019 at 5 Pm. During the enquiry, I explained to the Inspector of Police Mr Velmani and Sub Inspector of Police that it was the Pervallur police themselves who had threatened the Mandapam owner to cancel the indoor awareness event and inturn filed a case of cheating and forgery on me for not conducting the event. I also submitted a written statement to the Sub Inspector of Police Mr Mukundhan. In the enquiry, irrelevant questions including the school in which my daughters study were asked.
A summon from Central Crime Bureau was sent to Jahir Hussain (Joint Convenor), Nakkeeran.P (Treasurer), Antony (Service Provider of internet space for Arappor website) and myself (Convener) to attend enquiry for FIR 87/2019. We had no idea what this FIR is about since CCB doesn’t upload FIRs online.
During the anticipatory bail petition hearing on 19.08.2019, the learned public prosecutor misrepresented before the Madras Hon’ble Court that I had not appeared before the police for notice u/s 41(A) Cr.P.C on 04.08.2019.
Jahir Husain, Nakkeeran, Antony, and I attended the Enquiry by the Cyber cell, Central Crime Bureau. The case related to a video about Chennai Corporation corruption which as released more than 6 months back. During the enquiry, they asked me many irrelevant and personal questions to harass and intimidate us including the school in which my daughters study. It seemed that the enquiry was conducted with a prefixed agenda. First, Inspector Ms. Anusuya gave a questionnaire which contained questions such as whether we have proofs of allegations made in video and to whom and when we have complained about the said contents of corruption. When we answered about the DVAC complaints we have made and the high court orders passed on the issue, the police officer after getting instructions from the top deleted these relevant questions, changed them and gave a new questionnaire in which these questions were deleted. More importantly it must be noticed that the inspector all along said that this FIR was based on a complaint from Chennai Corporation. Once I wrote in the statement that I was not shown copy of complaint or FIR, I was shown the FIR in which I found that this case has been filed on 02/03/2019 without even calling me and doing a basic enquiry. I was also shocked to find that the Inspector misrepresented to me about the complainant and the complainant was a 3rd party unrelated to Chennai Corporation. The High court had already passed orders on the said video that it need not be removed and that we have shown prima facie materials. Such false and foisted FIRs have been the order of the day under Mr A.K.Viswanathan. We were again asked to appear for enquiry on 27/08/2019
I was summoned to the Egmore Police Station and was informed about 11 complaints filed against me, Jahir Husain, and Mohamed Kasim Basith (Volunteer). These complaints stated that the organization is behaving like urban Naxal groups and are linked to terrorist organizations and had no iota of evidence. I would like state that Arappor Iyakkam is an organization that strongly believes in the Indian Constitution and the Gandhian path of non-violence. We are against naxalism and terrorism of any form. I submitted a written statement i n response to these complaints at the Egmore police station.
I was called for an enquiry to the Semmanchery police station regarding the FIR filed against me, which lasted for more than 2 hours.
Jahir Hussain, Nakkeeran, and I attended the second Enquiry by the Central Crime Bureau. The Inspector to my shock refused to accept the high court orders and dvac complaints on the Chennai corporation corruption and once I insisted on these documents to be included as part of my statement, she asked me leave. This clearly proves that the Inspector is not interested in truth. In every enquiry, police tells us that they are not worried about truth but they can only execute orders from the top.
P. Nakkeeran, office bearer of Arappor Iyakkam was called for enquiry to the Chemmenchery police station at 4 Pm. A constable from the station handed over the notice on the previous day at 9.30 pm at Arappor office. P. Nakkeeran had nothing to do with the Chemmenchery police station issue. Such notices and enquiry are just aimed to harass, waste our time and not let us focus on our key work of anticorruption efforts.
28/08/2019 – 04/09/2019
Intelligence officials have been visiting the households of volunteers of Arappor Iyakkam as mode of mere harassment. On 04/09/2019, a person claiming to be from Korattur Intelligence bearing 2 wheeler vehicle no TN 13 D 2938 visited our volunteer Haris Sulthan’s house and first claimed to have come to verify for passport and then said he has come to verify regarding case details on him. Similarly, such police officials have enquired about me to my neighbours few days back. Intelligence person also called another volunteer Ravichandran a week back and the intelligence person asked even his caste apart from his personal details. All these are intended to harass volunteers and frighten them.
The above events clearly show how the police have been relentlessly trying to intimidate and harass us in the last 2 months due to pressure from top Police officials and Politicians. The Inspectors at every police station tells us that they are powerless, can act only as per instruction from the top and not act as per merits of the case. There is absolutely no truth in any of the above cases and will not stand the test of law. The FIRs are false, motivated and has been filed with the intention to harass us, intimidate us, and stop us from doing our duty of peacefully fighting against corruption. The Supreme Court has held in the case of State of Karnataka v J Jayalalitha & Ors ((2017) 6 SCC 263) that every citizen of our country should be part of the sacrosanct mission to fight corruption. Corruption not only results in concentration of wealth in the hands of unscrupulous and dishonest people but also results in increased inequality, discrimination, social conflict and wide spread misery and marginalization of ordinary citizens. Our actions have sprung from the idealism enshrined in the Constitution of creating an India in which all people can live with dignity, fraternity and liberty.
It is the duty of your Department to be with us the ordinary citizens who are carrying out this effort to fight Corruption and cleanse this menace. However, it is painful to see that your Department has over the last 7 months and more so in the last 2 months under Mr A.K.Viswanathan seems to be misusing his power to harass and silence the ordinary citizens from carrying out our efforts to bring about Transparency and Accountability in Governance. Such acts of threatening Mandapam owners using Inspectors shows disrespect and utter disgrace to the rule of law. This is having a chilling effect on our freedom of speech and expression and the efforts for Anti-Corruption in the state of Tamilnadu.
The Supreme court has also spoken about the need for police reforms and the need for police to act independently and not play to the whims and fancies of the politicians. However it must be noted that this case and other cases against me in the last 7 months filed by your Department happened after our complaints to DVAC and the case in the Hon’ble High court through WP 34845 of 2018 that we filed to investigate evidences of Corruption on Minister Mr S.P.Velumani and other public servants. The Commissioner of Police Mr A.K.Viswanathan seems to be misusing the Police Department to favour Mr.S.P.Velumani and his Corruption by harassing us with these series of cases over the last 7 months and more specifically in the last 2 months.
If Mr A.K.Viswanathan is allowed to continue as Chennai’s Police Commissioner, it is not only a harassment for ordinary citizens like us but his actions are a great disgrace to the police force as such. Commissioner of Police should be a position that exhibits honesty, integrity and act independently without fear or favour of politicians. But Mr A.K.Viswanathan seems to have defied them all and is seemingly misusing his power to favour Mr S.P.Velumani and protect his Corruption. None of his threats using these cases will prevent us from carrying the work of Anti Corruption and work towards the betterment of TamilNadu. But it is important that you take immediate action on Mr A.K.Viswanathan so that accountability is fixed for gross misuse of his power. Therefore, I request you to kindly:
Suspend Commissioner of Police of Greater Chennai, Mr.A. K. Viswanathan.
Conduct an enquiry on Mr. A. K. Viswanathan for misuse of power to favour Mr.S.P.Velumani and take suitable Departmental action.
Withdraw all the foisted cases against Arappor Iyakkam and stop harassment of volunteers of Arappor Iyakkam.
Implement Police Reforms to ensure that Police is able to act independently.
Jayaram Venkatesan Convener – Arappor Iyakkam Ph: 98418 94700