Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer orders filing of “hate speech” charge against woman on DMK complaint against video she posted on social media

Published : March 26, 2021 21:52 IST

DMK president M.K. Stalin and general secretary Durai Murugan releasing the party's manifesto for the Assembly election, in Chennai on March 13. Photo: BIJOY GHOSH

The Tamil Nadu Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) has ordered the Director General of Police (DGP) to take action under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code against a woman, who, in his assessment, had indulged in hate speech in a video clip circulated widely on social media. He also directed that the video clip be taken down from all social media platforms. The action was taken following a formal complaint lodged by the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK).

The video, which was posted soon after the DMK released its manifesto, says: “DMK in its election manifesto has given a dangerous promise. In the manifesto, in Sl.No.259, it has stated that if a bride from Mudaliar, Brahmin, Naidu, Vanniyar, Yadav, Nadar, Agamudaiyar, Reddiyar, Pillai, Kallar, Maravar, Chettiyar, Kongu Vellalar, Mutharaiyar castes marry a groom from the Scheduled Caste, the couple will be rewarded with Rs.60,000 cash and 8 grams of gold…. The above promise [will create] social disorder in the State. There are girl children in homes of all these communities, and hence, people from these communities will have to remember that no votes from these communities should be registered for the DMK.

“People, be aware and very careful…. How did they include this as one of the election promises? Is this included for Thirumavalavan [Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader]? Every man and woman from these castes [should] be very careful this time, and do not register even a single vote either knowingly or unknowingly to the DMK. Everyone of you should be strong in your decision.”

The CEO, in a letter to the Election Commission of India on March 25, said that the “woman was not disclosing her identity with a political party”. He ordered that “her hate speech should be stopped and removed immediately from WhatsApp and other social media platforms” because it “promotes hatred among castes.”

In another letter to the DGP the same day, the CEO asserted that the woman’s speech “is punishable under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code” (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc.). He asked the DGP to identify the woman, initiate action against her, and also take action to remove the content from social media platforms.

The Dravidian movement, especially the DMK, always stood for inter-caste marriage. DMK leader and MP T.K.S. Elangovan, who was part of the manifesto drafting committee, said that this was a scheme that had existed for decades and was introduced with an aim of effecting social change and dissolving caste differences. “This is not a new scheme. The monetary assistance given under the scheme has now been enhanced in the manifesto,” he said and added that, going by past experience, most people who came forward to claim the money had married with the consent of their parents. “They get married. Then they claim the amount. The government verifies the claim and sanctions the money,” he said.