Chennai: He is not yet as ‘famous’ as Binayak Sen but rights activist A Manuvel, barely 27, is already considered ‘dangerous’ to national security as the police have locked him under the National Security Act after he held a seminar on the tiger reserve project in Sathyamangalam.
Even as the social networking sites across the country are hotly debating his detention in the Coimbatore jail since the last two months, the NSA board heard his defense last week and is expected to pronounce verdict shortly.
“Manuvel fought for the rights of the tribals of Sathyamangalam, who could be evicted by the tiger reserve project”, said his wife Agarathi, an advocate practising at Madurai. “He circulated pamphlets and talked about the struggle led by tribals in north India for winning their rights. For this, he was arrested and detained under the NSA quoting nine old cases filed against him for agitating for public causes during his student days at the Madurai law college during 2007-10”.
The NSA is usually resorted to by the police to detain up to a year an anti-social/anti-national posing threat to national security and social order. Activists however complain that the Act has been often used to curb the freedom of social campaigners to agitate about public issues.
According to Agarathi, her husband moved the Madras high court seeking permission to hold his tiger seminars and even got a favourable order. “But before the hard copy of the judgement could reach him, the local police arrested him citing threat to the security of the State”, she said.
The detention order signed by the Erode district collector said it was necessary to detain Manuvel “with a view to prevent him from acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order and security of the State”.
He also said Manuvel had started several organisations under the umbrella of CPI (Maoist) and enrolled members by claiming to work for the uplift of the downtrodden and tribals, while actually planning to trigger armed revolt against the State—an allegation stoutly denied by wife Agarathi.