Three Arrested Over Protests Against Chennai-Salem Highway Project
Valarmathi is the second activist to be arrested within two days. On Monday, social activist Piyush Manush, a native of Salem and the founder of Salem Citizen’s Forum who is known for his fight on anti-environmental issues was arrested for allegedly ‘instigating’ people to oppose the project.
File photo of Tamil Nadu CM Edappadi K Palaniswamy.
Chennai: Valarmathi, a student activist from Tamil Nadu, was arrested on Tuesday by Salem police for protesting against the state government’s eight-lane national highway project. Sources said she was arrested after she tried to disrupt a meeting between revenue and police officials on the proposed project.
The activist was earlier booked under the Goonda Act a few months ago but the Madras High Court quashed her detention.
Valarmathi is the second activist to be arrested within two days. On Monday, social activist Piyush Manush, a native of Salem and the founder of Salem Citizen’s Forum who is known for his fight on anti-environmental issues was arrested for allegedly ‘instigating’ people to oppose the project. Manush had been previously detained in 2016 on charges of criminal intimidation when he protested against the construction of a bridge.
Actor Mansoor Ali Khan was also arrested on Sunday for his ‘provocative’ speeches in Salem district. The actor threatened to kill eight people if the eight-lane highway project is taken forward. He believes if the project is implemented, it will affect the livelihood of the public at large.
While three arrests have been made so far, the state government continues to defend its actions.
Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar said, “The state government is not against the people of Tamil Nadu and the voice of the people will be heard. Any government project will be implemented only with the consent of the people. The state has been calm and there is no law and order problem here. Some people are trying to disrupt the peace. If the people have a problem, they should take a representation to the government and not take law into their own hands.”
The minister attacked the DMK saying the state was ruled by all DMK family members earlier and now under the AIADMK rule, people’s voice will be heard.
The political opposition, however, lashed out at the Chief Minister Edapadi K Palaniswami’s government. DMK MP, Kanimozhi, tweeted, “Edapadi’s keen interest to see the Salem 8 lane project completed would put any ruthless dictator to shame. Shoot to kill. Arrest, NSA. No protests in Tamil Nadu. Hail Palaniswami.”
The Chennai-Salem Greenfield Corridor project is expected to reduce the travel time between Chennai and Salem from 6 hours to 3 hours and 30 minutes. The total land required for the project is 2791 hectares comprising agricultural and residential plots. Palaniswami had said in the state Assembly that the project will require only 1,900 hectares to widen the highways.
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