Chennai: Chief Minister M K Stalin ordered the withdrawal of 868 criminal cases filed during the AIADMK regime against protestors who took part in democratically organized demonstrations against the imposition of NEET in the State by the Union Government and those demanding the closure of liquor shops.
Ever since NEET, the National Eligibility and Entrance Test for admission to medical colleges, was made mandatory in 2017, the State has been witnessing a succession of protests against it with various groups of people expressing their opposition to it.
Cracking down on those protestors, the AIADMK government, led by Edappadi K Palaniswami, had filed 446 cases against those who took part in the agitations at various places at different times. Though the AIADMK government had, in principle, opposed NEET and had even passed resolutions in the Assembly, it did not allow protests against it by civil society.
Similarly 422 cases were also registered against temperance activists all over the State for holding protests against the opening of liquor shops by TASMAC. The police at many places had also lathi-charged the protestors who were demanding the closing of TASMAC outlets.
All those cases would now be closed and no further action would be taken against those who faced the charges for holding democratic protests, the Chief Minister ordered on Monday.
Stalin had announced that the cases would be withdrawn, in his reply to the debate on the grants for the police department in the State Assembly, on September 13 itself, an official press release said on Monday.
Earlier, on June 24, the Chief Minister, in his reply to the discussion on the Governor’s Address, had said that cases filed during the AIADMK government against people who held democratic protests for various other demands would be repealed.
Following that announcement, 5,570 cases registered in connection with a plethora of popular agitations in the State and those filed against a wide range of media houses, in breach of the concept of freedom of expression, were withdrawn.
The popular agitations included those held by farmers against the Union Government’s controversial three Agricultural laws brought in recently and several demonstrations and protests demanding the withdrawal of the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The other agitations that attracted cases during the AIADMK rule were to protest against the proposed extraction of methane in the Cauvery delta districts, the setting up of the India-based Neutrino Observatory (INO) in Theni district, the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project and the plan to construct a greenfield eight-lane express highway connection Salem to Chennai.