Pa Ranjith questions DMK government, media on BSP Tamil Nadu chief Armstrong’s murder

The filmmaker said the police are also considering the incident as a revenge murder, and are "interested" in closing the case based on the confessional statements of those who had surrendered. 

BySouth First Desk

Published Jul 09, 2024 | 11:50 AM Updated Jul 09, 2024 | 11:50 AM

Director Pa Ranjith (left) and the slain BSP leader K Armstrong. (Supplied)

Launching a broadside against the ruling DMK in Tamil Nadu, filmmaker and scenarist Pa Ranjith questioned the government’s commitment to protecting Dalits and their leaders.

Referring to the murder of his close friend and BSP state president K Armstrong, Ranjith said in an X post on Monday, 8 July, that police were going by the confessional statements of eight people who had surrendered after the murder. The police later arrested three more people.

Armstrong, 52, was murdered near his residence on the night of 5 June. Those who surrendered reportedly told the police that they were avenging the murder of history-sheeter Arcot Suresh alias V Suresh.

Suresh, with 30 cases — including five for murder — against him, was killed by a five-member gang at Foreshore Estate in Chennai on 18 August 2023.

Also Read: Armstrong murder is symptomatic of deteriorating law and order in Tamil Nadu

Ranjith raises several questions

In his close-to-midnight post on X, Ranjith raised seven questions to the government. Noting that Armstrong was fatally attacked near the Sempiam police station, the filmmaker said it pointed to the fact that the killers acted with scant fear of law and order.

“So, what action plan are you going to create to restore law and order and prevent such an incident from happening again,” Ranjith asked.

He further noted that the police were also considering the incident as a revenge murder, and were “interested” in closing the case based on the confessional statements of those who had surrendered.

“Who planned this (murder)? Who directed them? Has the police department concluded that there is no other background for this,” he questioned.

Ponnai Balu, brother of slain Suresh, was among those who had surrendered. Incidentally, the police denied that the eight had surrendered.

Ranjith also questioned the media for not challenging the police version.

The movie director expressed fear over Dalits and Dalit leaders in rural Tamil Nadu.

“If this government has created an environment conducive to killing a great leader in the capital (city), then there is a fear when we think about those in rural towns in Tamil Nadu. To defuse this tension and threat, the Tamil Nadu government should let us know its plans,” he wrote in Tamil.

Related: Slain Tamil Nadu BSP chief Armstrong laid to rest

Alternative theories

Ranjith further reminded the DMK that it rode to power on Dalit votes. “Aren’t you aware that Dalits are the biggest supporters of your regime? I also cast my vote to put you in power. It is with that in mind that I pose these questions. Is social justice just for votes,” he sought to know.

He condemned “alternative” theories being peddled by “some media” on websites, accusing Armstrong of being a criminal. However, he did not identify any of the websites.

Ranjith also questioned the government’s opposition to burying Armstrong’s body in the BSP office in Chennai. Though his wife had moved the Madras Court seeking permission to bury the body at the party office, the government opposed it, saying it was a residential area, and the roads were narrow.

Referring to the recent stampede at Hathras in Uttar Pradesh that killed more than 120 people, the court noted that the leader should be laid to rest somewhere where the area should be enough to accommodate the people who come to pay respects to him.

“Loss is a loss which cannot be filled with anything. But we also have to consider the limits of the authority. You cannot bury a person in a residential area. That has been made clear in many orders,” Justice Bhavani said.

The burial was held at Pothur in Tiruvallur at the end of a nearly eight-hour well-attended funeral procession from the city.

Addressing the media, the then Greater Chennai Commissioner of Police Sandeep Rai Rathore said Armstrong was earlier a history sheeter. “The court closed the cases against him,” he said. Sandeep Rai Rathore was shunted out on Monday with the DMK government appointing A Arun in his place.

The rivalry between Armstrong and Arcot Suresh reportedly began with a ₹25,000 crore financial scam involving Chennai-based Aarudhra Gold Trading Pvt Ltd between 2020 and 2022. Armstrong, a lawyer, represented the depositors who had lost their deposits, while Suresh sided with the Aarudhra management.

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