Chennai: The city police detained 11 volunteers of an activist group, Arappor Iyakkam, for conducting a social audit of Kallu Kuttai lake in Taramani on Saturday morning. Police said they have detained them as they wanted to avoid law and order situation and did not want any objections from the encroachers of the lake.
According to reports, 10 volunteers identified as Prashanth Goutham, Haris Sultan, Palanisamy, Krishna Dayal, Ravi Chandran, Om Prakash, William Carry, Balaji CR, Jagan, Keerthi Vasan Netaji and Sajeevan Kumar have been visiting city lakes every weekend for the last three years and auditing the lakes in the city. However, on Saturday, they were not allowed to study the lake.
On Saturday at around 7 am, when the volunteers were walking around the lake, surveying the area, officials from Taramani police station came over and began questioning them, asking if they had permission. They were detained at Hema Mahal Kalyana Mandapam in Velachery.
A police officer from Taramani station said, "We got a complaint that a group of people was at the lake. They did not have any permission from the revenue department. Whenever a group of people wants to visit the lakes or any such activity, they need to take permission. This is only a precautionary measure, taken to prevent a possible clash between the volunteer group and locals from the area." He also said that if the group obtained permission, they would have given them protection. Sources said the volunteers were granted bail in the evening. In June-end Arappor Iyakkam had sought police permission for holding a protest to call attention to Chennai's water crisis. However, The city police had refused to grant permission, citing law and order issues.
The Iyakkam then moved the Madras High Court seeking permission for the protest, and the court ruled in their favour.
Now, Arappor volunteers argue that the detentions on Saturday are part of the police's attempts to hinder their work. They do not agree with the police's arguments about precautionary measures and permissions....