New Delhi: A 62-year-old woman in Chennai has filed a police complaint against Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) national president Dr Subbiah Shanmugam for harassing her, and urinating and throwing used surgical masks outside her house over a parking lot row.
The woman and the ABVP chief live in the same residential society in a Chennai suburb.
In her complaint, the woman alleged that the row between the two started in January over a vacant parking slot she owned in the society. Shanmugam, who is a surgical oncologist and head of the surgical oncology department at Chennai’s Government Kilpauk Medical College, took one slot promising to pay Rs 1,500 as rent for it, but didn’t do so.
As the alleged harassment grew over the months, she fixed a CCTV camera outside her house on 10 July. On the same day, the CCTV caught a man purportedly urinating and throwing used masks outside her house. Alleging that the man in the footage is Shanmugam, she attached the clip in her complaint filed on 11 July.
A relative of the woman told ThePrint that an FIR in the case has still not been registered.
The Congress student body, the National Students Union of India (NSUI), posted the alleged CCTV footage of the incident on Twitter Friday, calling for action against the ABVP chief.
A lady gets harassed by ABVP's President @subbiah_doctor. Yet no action is taken against him. Why would an action be taken against him? He is associated with RSS-BJP. Political influence of theirs is safeguarding such criminals as they have done for others. #ShameOnABVP pic.twitter.com/ToJbFmrVyg
— NSUI (@nsui) July 24, 2020
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The ABVP, which is a Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) affiliate, denied the charges hours later, saying there was an issue but that’s close to being resolved. It alleged that the case was the handiwork of NSUI, which has doctored the footage, and called for a probe by the Tamil Nadu cyber cell.
“There was indeed an issue of parking slots at the residential society between two families owing to lack of communication between them. It includes Dr Subbiah’s family on one side. Now the two families have thoroughly discussed the issue and are coming to a resolution without any ill-will towards each other,” ABVP national general secretary Nidhi Tripathi said in a statement.
While Shanmugam has denied the charges in reports, ThePrint couldn’t reach him for a comment as his phone remained unreachable. RSS and BJP leaders, however, dismissed the case as “misunderstanding”.
‘Shanmugam not ready to take corrective steps’
The issue first came to prominence Thursday when the woman’s nephew, Balaji Vijayaraghavan, a stand-up comic, posted about the alleged incident.
There is always a fear to take the powerful ones head-on. But, when you do it, do it with utmost caution and complete preparedness. Not sure if the fight would enhance your prowess, but will surely enhance your resilience.
Stick to ethics and stay lawful.
There is God!
— Balaji Vijayaraghavan (@mkvbalu) July 23, 2020
Speaking to ThePrint, Vijayaraghavan said the harassment started in January over the issue of payment of parking charges. Incidents included the ABVP leader calling her repeatedly and asking her if she needed chicken despite knowing that she is vegetarian.
“My aunt has found wet newspapers and surgical masks on her door. For proof she installed CCTV on our floor. After proof, we went to the police station on 11 July but were not given a copy of the CSR receipt immediately. The FIR has not been filed. I have gone to the police station multiple times but there has been no action,” he said.
“If Shanmugam accepted his fault, we would have accepted… He was not ready to take corrective steps so we decided to file a complaint.”
After the NSUI posted the video, DMK MP M. Kanimozhi sought action against the leader. She also hit out at the police for routinely turning a blind eye towards complaints against Right-wing members. She demanded the intervention of the CM.
This has become a routine on the part of the police to turn a blind eye on complaints against right wing members. @CMOTamilNadu should immediately intervene and ensure all are treated equally before law.
— Kanimozhi (கனிமொழி) (@KanimozhiDMK) July 25, 2020
What the RSS and BJP said
However, an RSS functionary told ThePrint, “There was an issue between two neighbours over a parking slot. They have discussed this to sort it out. They might have a misunderstanding, but their housing society has met over this issue twice.”
The RSS functionary, who didn’t wish to be named, said Shanmugam usually uses the society staircase amid the lockdown. “This might have created confusion. ABVP has complained to cyber cell over doctored video circulated by NSUI and ABVP is open to any investigation,” he said.
A BJP leader said on condition of anonymity that although this is an internal issue of the ABVP, apparently it’s a “misunderstanding” between two neighbours living in the same block in a housing society.
“If there is misunderstanding they will resolve amicably. Maybe he should handle it more properly,” said the BJP leader.
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