Kollywood comedian turned politician and Tiruvadanai legislator Karunas was arrested in Chennai yesterday for his vituperative speech targeting Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvan and police officials. In the video of the speech that was widely circulated across the state and created a huge furore, Karunas is seen making defamatory and derogatory remarks against ruling AIADMK leaders and senior police officers.
Following a complaint, Nungambakkam police registered cases under IPC Sections 153, 153(A)(1)(a),(1)(b)(c)(ii), 307, 506(i) & r/w 120 (b) and, for criminal conspiracy, promoting enmity, promoting disharmony, attempt to murder and issuing death threat under Section 41(VI)(a)(b)(c)(II), Madras City Police Act 1888.
A specially constituted team of police officials arrested Karunas at his Valasaravakkam residence at around 6.30 am. A sizeable number of supporters gathered in front of his house to express solidarity with him since Saturday night, as police sources made it clear that he will face action for his provocative speech. After being taken to Nungambakkam police station for questioning, he was produced before Gopinath, 13th Egmore Metropolitan Magistrate. He was lodged in prison after being remanded in Judicial custody till 5 October.
Though he regularly participated and gave fiery speeches in rallies organised by his caste organisation, Karunas plunged into active electoral politics in the run-up to the 2016 assembly election by floating a caste-based outfit Mukkulathor Pullippadai group. He managed to enter into an alliance with the ruling AIADMK and was allocated Tiruvadani assembly seat. He contested on AIADMK symbol and won with a convincing margin.
As long as the late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa was at the helm of affairs, Karuna was maintaining a low profile. After the passing away of Jaya, Karunas has been in the news often for his provocative political speeches and shifting political loyalties. He is now allied with the Dinakaran faction of the AIADMK.
Talking to reporters post his arrest, Karunas said that the AIADMK government was unleashing a reign of terror in the state and superseding the freedom of expression. He claimed that he would fight the case legally. He also questioned if prior permission of Legislative Assembly Speaker P Dhanapal was obtained for arresting him.
“I don’t know whether police have obtained the permission of the Speaker for arresting me,” he added.
The arrest of Karunas predictably degenerated into a political slugfest with DMK President and Opposition leader M K Stalin condemning the arrest of Karunas. Stalin also said the government was adopting a different yardstick for BJP leaders S Ve Shekar, H Raja and Karunas.
Shekhar, who shared a highly derogatory Facebook post against women Journos, and Raja who launched an angry tirade against police officials were not arrested, he said.
Even after the Madras High Court dismissed Shekhar's anticipatory bail plea and the Supreme Court refused to stay his arrest, he was not arrested, said Stalin.
“Those who should be arrested should be arrested and those who should be released, should be released,” he said, apparently referring to BJP National Secretary Raja and Karunas respectively.