The DMK government’s latest action involves booking the ex-DGP for allegedly spreading false information about the ruling party and Chief Minister MK Stalin. The complaint accuses Nataraj of promoting enmity between different religious groups, intentionally insulting to provoke a breach of public peace, and circulating rumors with the intent to cause fear or alarm.The Trichy central district advocates’ wing of the DMK filed the complaint, raising concerns about the government’s approach to criticism.
According to the complainant, advocate P Sheela of Karumandapam in Trichy, Nataraj attributed a message to CM Stalin and posted it in a group with a picture of the CM, creating the impression of a breaking news report on a private TV channel. She further alleged that Nataraj spread a false message on social media, claiming that the DMK government had demolished over 2000 temples in the state with the support of the Tamil Nadu police in the past two years, intending to tarnish the image of the state government and create law and order issues.
The charges against Nataraj include sections 153 A (promoting enmity), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of peace), 505 (1)(b) (making, publishing, or circulating any statement, rumor, or report with the intent to cause fear or alarm), 505 (1)(c) (making, publishing, or circulating any statement, rumor, or report with the intent to incite), 505(2) (statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred, or ill-will between classes) of the IPC, and also 66D of the IT Act, 2008.
This incident adds to a series of actions taken by the DMK government against critics and social media voices. The government has been accused of stifling democratic voices and selectively targeting individuals for their online posts critical of the administration and its leaders.
In the past, notable personalities such as vlogger Mardidhass, Kishore K Swamy, SG Surya, Sanghi Prince, Na Muthuramalingam, and BJP’s Kalayanaraman have faced arrests under similar circumstances. Critics argue that the arrests are often carried out in the early hours, resembling the treatment of terrorists, and are strategically timed on holidays to prevent immediate bail.
CM Stalin, addressing a marriage function in Trichy, confirmed the action against the ex-DGP, stating that police had taken action for spreading malicious messages against the DMK government via WhatsApp. However, he refrained from naming the former senior officer. The police officer, according to the CM, falsely claimed that the DMK did not need Hindu votes and could win without them.
Stalin blamed certain individuals for attempting to bring down the DMK government through false propaganda and urged the public to use the upcoming Lok Sabha polls to defeat such attempts.
Critics argue that the DMK government’s actions are indicative of its intolerance towards criticism and an attempt to stifle dissenting voices. They point to the government’s selective targeting of critics while sparing its own members and allies despite numerous complaints.
The incident has sparked a larger debate on freedom of speech and expression, with some questioning whether the government will act similarly on complaints against its own leaders for making statements that are allegedly hateful, abusive, and threatening, particularly in relation to Hindu traditions.
As the legal battle unfolds, concerns are mounting about the potential erosion of democratic values and freedom of speech in the state. The DMK government’s actions are under scrutiny, with critics demanding consistency in the application of the law and equal treatment for all citizens, irrespective of their political affiliations.