TN Congress scorns freedom of expression favouring Tigers

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 29 January 2008, 10:08 GMT]
Congress party legislators in Tamil Nadu, who demanded the arrest of Viduthalai Chi'ruththaika'l Kadchi (VCK, the Liberation Panthers Party) President Thol. Thirumavalavan for publicly expressing moral support to the LTTE, staged a walkout Tuesday from the Tamil Nadu state assembly when Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi responded to their demand by saying that such arrests could not be made, citing a Supreme Court verdict on MDMK leader Vaiko, which held that expressing solidarity was not a crime. This is the first time that Congress legislators have walked out of the Tamil Nadu assembly after DMK assumed power in May 2006.

Chief Minister Karunanidhi's refusal to take action against the pro-LTTE politicians irked the Congress (the ruling party's major ally), which along with the opposition party AIADMK, staged the walkout from the Tamil Nadu assembly.

Congress legislators Peter Alphonse, G Gnanasekaran and Jeyakumar had demanded that the Chief Minister take action against LTTE supporters in Tamil Nadu. They sought the arrest of VCK leader Thol. Thirumavalavan and members of his party for continuing to support the Tamil Tigers.

When Karunanidhi responded to their question, he said that the Supreme Court, as well as the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) Review Committee had held that speaking in support of a banned organization was not a crime and protected by the right to freedom of expression.

The Congress legislators alleged that "in spite of the warnings by the Indian security forces, the VCK had conducted a meeting with LTTE leader Pirapaharan's picture under the pretext of reclaiming the freedom of expression." They wondered how permission had been granted for such a meeting and said that irrespective of the Supreme Court judgment, there were provisions in other laws to arrest the VCK leader.


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