Tamil Nadu: Evangelists’ Role Alleged In ‘Police Humiliation’ That Led To Sadhu’s ‘Death By Suicide’
Saravanan is believed to have committed suicide as he was assaulted by sub-inspector Antony Michael, who, it’s alleged, thought the sadhu was obstructing church activities.
A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe is being demanded into the alleged death by suicide of a 42-year-old sadhu, Saravanan, at a place near Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami’s village after he was humiliated by a group of policemen led by a local sub-inspector.
A campaign seeking CBI inquiry has been launched with emails being sent to Union Home Minister Amit Shah to look into the issue, while the attention of the Prime Minister's Office was drawn on social media.
Today (24 August), the Hindu Makkal Katchi (HMK) held a demonstration in Salem demanding a CBI inquiry into the incident.
Speaking to Swarajya, C M Manikandan, the local organiser of the event, alleged that Saravanan was beaten up by a team of police led by sub-inspector Antony Michael as the former's activities prevented conversion by local church people.
“There is a church in the locality. Not many were going to it and the sadhu was held responsible for it. So, Michael beat him up to ensure he would not be a hurdle,” the HMK leader claimed.
What probably the HMK and others are indicating is that Saravanan used to attend to people who complained that they were possessed by ghosts or evil spirits. He was primarily engaged in treating such people by tying a talisman or sacred thread.
In ordinary circumstances, such people, failing to get a remedy, would have been enticed to the local church by evangelists. But with Saravanan tackling this issue, he was seen as a hurdle to the church's activities.
Saravanan, in a video sent to his friends and posted on social media, said that Michael was responsible for his “severe depression”, forcing him to commit suicide as the police official had humiliated him.
HMK’s Manikandan said that the sadhu felt depressed since he was beaten up by police in front of his children.
Saravanan also said that he would return as a ghost to take revenge for the humiliation meted out to him.
Reports on Saravanan’s suicide said that usually, he held pujas on Amavasyas (new moon day), particularly to help people who complain of being possessed by ghosts or evil spirits at his village Puliyampatti Kudalamkadu near Edappadi.
As a routine, he also treated people who came to him daily complaining about health problems.
On 14 August, he was attending to two women who were reported to have been possessed by evil spirits when a group of policemen from Thevur police station landed at his place and beat him up.
Another version said the police beat him up when he was eating a packet of food given by a woman devotee.
Saravanan went missing the next morning. When a search was launched, his friends received his video on WhatsApp in which he said that the police beating had led to his depression.
The sadhu’s body was found amidst rocks in a forest region near his residence on 21 August in a decomposed state.
Thevur police told local media that they went to Saravanan’s place on receiving a complaint that he was holding “naked pujas” with women.
They said that they had warned him not to do such things, besides advising him to shave off his beard and take up some job.
In a parallel development, a petition has been filed before the National Human Rights Commission by a non-governmental organisation Legal Rights Protection Forum.
The petition also sought filing of a first information report against Michael.
The role of sub-inspector Michael has come under scrutiny, particularly, with action being demanded against him. Ironically, Michael reportedly hails from Santhankulam, the place where a father and son died in June after being beaten up in police custody. A Central Bureau of Investigation probe is underway in the incident.
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