It has been over three weeks since a case was filed against politician and actor S Ve Shekher following a complaint registered by the Tamil Nadu Journalist Protection Welfare Association (TNJPWA). While no arrests have been made yet, city’s walls are now splattered with “wanted” posters of the actor.
The posters are emblazoned by a black-and-white photo of the actor, and the text says that ways to identify him are to look for a visible poonal (ritual thread) and for someone who speaks disrespectfully of women.
The poster also requests anyone who identifies him to immediately report to the nearest police station and also lists a contact number.
These posters have reportedly been put up by Makkal Mandram, a Chennai-based association that fights for human rights. Speaking to TNM, Jessy, one of its coordinators, said,”The police have pursued several accused even outside the state, what is stopping them from arresting someone who could not have gone all that far?”
She also added that the poster has received support from many who have called to appreciate the idea.
On May 10, the Madras HC rejected the anticipatory bail filed by S Ve Shekher two weeks ago and observed, “Forwarding a message is equal to accepting the message and endorsing the message.”
On Tuesday, a counsel on behalf of the petitioners (TNJPWA) sent a notice to the Commissioner of Police and the Chennai Central Crime Branch Inspector observing that not arresting S Ve Shekher would amount to disrespecting the court’s order and if an arrest is not made within 7 days, a case will be filed in the court.
S Ve Shekher had shared a post on his Facebook page on April 19, which alleged that women journalists ‘sleep around to get top posts’.
The post titled ‘Madurai University, Governor and virgin woman’s cheeks’ came after a female correspondent of an English magazine accused the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Banwarilal Purohit, of inappropriate behaviour.
The journalist lodged a complaint against Shekher with the Central Crime Branch on April 20. S Ve Shekher had apologised soon after and said that he put up the post on his timeline without actually reading.
His comments, however, sparked strong protests, with journalists taking to the streets to mark their anger against him. The protests turned violent, and stones were pelted on his house.
On April 20, S Ve Shekher lodged a complaint with the Foreshore Estate police station with CCTV footage from his house. Thirty people (mostly journalists) have been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code: 147 (Rioting), 148 (Rioting armed with a deadly weapon), 323 (Voluntarily causing hurt), 336 (Doing any act which endangers human life or the personal safety of others), 506(i)(Criminal Intimidation) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 3 (Punishment for committing mischief in respect of any public property) of the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992.
However, on Wednesday, a High Court bench headed by Justice R Subramanian and Justice M Dhandapani dismissed a PIL filed by Advocate Premanand requesting S Ve Shekher’s case against 30 journalists be transferred to the CB-CID since no action has been taken in this regard so far.
The bench also observed that while the party in question (S Ve Shekher) himself has not approached the court, what is the need for a PIL and also asked if he is that oppressed to be unable to do so himself.