Two suspended DMK members — S Praveen Kumar and S Ekambaram — were arrested by the Chennai police on Wednesday, 4 January, for allegedly molesting and misbehaving with a woman police constable. The incident occurred during a public meeting held by the party last Saturday in the city.
The duo were suspended from the DMK late Tuesday night for bringing “disrepute” to the party. The action from the party and the police comes after massive outrage over the incident and pressure from the Opposition parties in the state.
The two men were booked under Sections 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of his/her duty) and 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty) of the Indian Penal Code.
Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act has also been invoked by the police.
The alleged incident of molestation of the woman constable took place during a public meeting, held in Virugambakkam, organised by the DMK to mark the birth centenary of its late general secretary K Anbazhagan.
State minister Ma Subramanian and MPs like Kanimozhi and Thamizhachi Thangapandian were present at the event.
It was towards the end of the public meeting that Praveen and Ekambaram allegedly molested the woman constable, who was stationed at the event venue.
When she cried out for help, a male police official and an inspector intervened, and caught the two of them.
However, just when they were about to be taken away, as per reports, DMK MLA Prabhakara Raja and others reached the spot and allegedly asked the police to let the two men go.
Moreover, even though the woman constable had filed an official complaint, she was purportedly forced to withdraw it due to political pressure. This led to Opposition parties questioning the DMK government.
The Opposition has spoken
Opposition party leader Edappadi K Palaniswami charged that it was a matter of shame that Chief Minister MK Stalin, who also holds the Home portfolio, was unable to save women police personnel from his own party men.
திமுகவின் பொது கூட்டத்தில் பெண் காவலர்களை பாலியல் ரீதீயாக துன்புறுத்திய திமுக நிர்வாகிகள்,
பாதுகாப்பு தருபவர்களையே தன் கட்சியினரிடம் இருந்து பாதுகாக்க முடியாத,
காவல்துறையையின் பொறுப்பாளராக இருக்ககூடிய இந்த கையாளாகாத முதல்வருக்கு எனது கடுமையான கண்டனங்கள்,@mkstalin
— Edappadi K Palaniswami (@EPSTamilNadu) January 2, 2023
Likewise, BJP state chief K Annamalai accused the chief minister of being a “silent spectator” and his governance to be in “deep slumber”.
“Disgraceful state of affairs in Tamil Nadu… Two DMK youth wing functionaries molested a woman constable on protection duty in a public meeting in which MP Kanimozhi participated. What’s more disgusting is that the DMK men ganged up and stopped the police from arresting those two individuals. The CM, as usual, continues to be a silent spectator to this,” he tweeted after the incident.
Disgraceful state of affairs in Tamil Nadu. Governance is in deep slumber.
Two DMK Youth wing functionaries molested a police constable on protection duty in a public meeting in which MP Smt @KanimozhiDMK avargal participated. (1/2)
— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) January 2, 2023
The other side of the story?
Meanwhile, DMK MLA Prabhakara Raja defended the two youth wing functionaries and claimed that they were “innocent”.
Speaking to the media, he said that their hands must have touched the police constable by mistake due to the massive crowd.
However, many also questioned the silence of women DMK leaders such as Kanimozhi over the matter.
On Wednesday, the senior DMK leader responded to the controversy and assured that there wouldn’t be any compromise when it comes to women’s safety.
“The CM has ordered to take action against them. Action has been taken. Under the DMK government, whoever indulges in wrongdoing, action will be taken against them,” Kanimozhi told reporters.