CPI(ML) Liberation Politburo Member and Tamil Nadu State Secretary Comrade Kumaraswamy and Central Committee Member Comrade Vidyasagar were arrested today along with 34 other activists for releasing a booklet titled ‘Chennai-Salem 8-Lane Green Expressway: Essential Or Not?’ on the street in front of Chennai Central Railway Station.

The comrades had sought to release the booklet at the Chennai Press Club but the police prevented them from doing so. They then released the booklet on the street. In Tamil Nadu today, citizens are being arrested for holding public meetings, distributing leaflets, and being lawyers who defend people’s movement activists. This intense attack on free speech indicates that the TN Government, acting as a puppet for the Modi Government, is working as an agent for rapacious corporations and attacking free speech and democracy.

The 8 Lane Expressway which will destroy forests and rob farmers of land is completely unnecessary since there are already three highways connecting Chennai with Salem. The Expressway is nothing but a Jindal-Adani Anti-Green Expressway, not a ‘Green Expressway’!

The arrested comrades were produced before a magistrate, remanded to judicial custody till 31 July 2018, and then released on bail.

Earlier, AIKM and CPI(ML) leaders including Chandramohan, state committee member of CPI(ML) and also state convenor of AIKM, Velmurugan SCM, Jeyaraman of RYA and Viswanathan state Vice President of AICCTU along with leaders of other left and peasant organisations were jailed for several days for protesting land-grab by the Salem-Chennai “Green Expressway.” It is now an undeclared Emergency prevailing in Tamilnadu, where people are arrested even for distributing leaflets, booklets, or holdinf peaceful protest meetings.

We demand withdrawal of all charges from against the CPI(ML) comrades as well as other activists in the State who have been arrested for exercising the democratic right to question illegal and anti-people decisions and projects of the Government and various corporations.

We demand that the Governments of Tamil Nadu and the Centre drop any plans to reopen the Sterlite plant at Thoothukudi, stop the ongoing police terror unleashed against people in Thoothukudi, withdraw the proposed 8-lane Chennai-Salem Expressway project, and stop the witch-hunt of citizens and activists in the State.

We demand resignation of Tamil Nadu CM E Palaniswamy of ADMK who is acting as an agent of the Modi Government, taking responsibility for the Thoothukudi massacre, police highhandedness, brutal repression and strangulation of dissent and democracy in the State.