As thousands of DMK cadres, including its MLAs and MPs, court arrest as part of its “Fill Jail” agitation in Tamil Nadu, the Jayalalithaa government will face a serious logistics issue – lack of space in the state’s jails to house them.
Her administration, particularly the police, will also be burdened with massive paperwork for their arrests, producing them before the magistrates and finally sending them to jail.
They also will have to find temporary shelters, such as marriage halls, before they are charged and remanded.
The numbers look overwhelming. On Tuesday, the DMK chief M Karunanidhi had said that about 50,000 DMK workers had registered to court arrest in the state, but today his son MK Stalin said that the number has doubled. If his claim turns out to be true, the 134 jails in the state will witness a possible breakdown.
And it won’t be an easy time for the party workers, particularly the leaders who walked into the police vans in crisp clothes. Will the jails have enough VIP facilities to maintain a semblance of their regular lifestyle?
The state’s jails have a maximum capacity of roughly 23,000 and at present its occupancy is only 70%. If all the agitators are remanded to at least 15 days of judicial custody, the state will have to definitely look for alternative arrangements. But a fortnight is too long for short-stay arrangements for such large numbers.
At the moment, the arrested cadres are being transported to marriage halls where they will be detained till they are remanded. Many of them came prepared, with their essential belongings and even beddings, for a long stay in jails. Interestingly one of their slogans is “sirai vaasam engalukku sukhavaasam” (Jail stay is pleasure-stay for us)
Jayalalithaa’s government could have foiled the arrest plan by detaining them for a day and sending them away. But the police chose to arrest them for violating prohibitory orders and unlawful assembly.
The top brass of the DMK, including Stalin, former union minister Dayanidhi Maran and Kanimozhi courted arrest in Chennai. Buoyed by the response of his party workers, Stalin said the agitation is not only against the false cases against the DMK leaders, but also against price rice and the anti-people policies of the government.
Earlier the party had announced that the agitation was against the cases against its leaders and it was mainly prompted by the detention under Goonda’s Act of a former DMK minister and senior leader Veerapandi Arumugam.
As Firstpost reported earlier, the arrest will have a possible bearing on the Presidential election. All the MPs and MLAs are reportedly courting arrest. If the detention is for 15 days or longer, they will be cutting it too fine and the leaders will also have to take back their call for “no bail”.
In his call for the agitation, Stalin had clearly told his cadres that they should not seek bail. One has to wait and see if the the MLAs and MPs seek bail to vote for Pranab Mukherjee or if they will be let out by May 19.
By the way, this agitation is not called “Jail Bharo” as many make it out to be, but “Sirai Nirappum Poraattam.”
It’s Tamil, not Hindi!