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VHP district secretary who ‘threatened’ parish priest now detained under Tamil Nadu’s Goondas Act

Ariyalur district secretary P. Muthuvel was taken into judicial custody on 13 March for 'extortion'. In his FIR, Father Dominic Savio alleged Muthuvel had threatened to 'tarnish his image'.

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Chennai: The Tamil Nadu Police has invoked the Goondas Act against P. Muthuvel, the Ariyalur District Secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

The 38-year-old, already in judicial custody in an extortion case, was served a detention order issued by Ariyalur Collector P. Ramana Saraswathi, at the Tiruchirapalli Central Prison Saturday.

Under the Tamil Nadu goondas act, an “offender” can be detained to prevent them from indulging in “dangerous activities prejudicial to the maintenance of public order”.

Muthuvel was taken into judicial custody on 13 March after a complaint by Father Dominic Savio, the parish priest of Our Lady of Lourdes in Ariyalur. In the FIR, Fr Dominic alleged that Muthuvel had threatened to tarnish his image if he did not pay him Rs 25 lakh.

According to Fr Savio, a man called Vinodh had approached him and told him about an audio clip of his conversation with Muthuvel. In the clip, Muthuvel allegedly suggested extorting money from the priest by threatening to malign his image by saying he was harassing school children.

Sources in the police told ThePrint that the audio clip of the purported conversation had been submitted to the police.

On the basis of the complaint, Muthuvel was booked under IPC sections 153 (provocation with the intent to cause riot), 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on the grounds of religion) 298 (uttering words to hurt religious sentiments), 389 (putting a person in fear of accusation to commit extortion), 504 (intentional insult to breach peace), 505 (i) (b) (intent to cause fear or alarm or fear to the public), and 505 (i) (c) (inciting a community to commit an offence).

ThePrint reached Su Srinivasan, president of VHP, Tamil Nadu-North, via phone. The report will be updated once a response is received.

Muthuvel shot to limelight in January last year after he released the video of a 17-year-old girl, Lavanya, from her hospital bed after a suicide bid. In the video, Muthuvel encouraged the girl to talk about her school in Michaelpatti in Thanjavur and how it had allegedly attempted to convert her to Christianity on multiple occasions.

The video was challenged as three days before her death Lavanya’s statement before the magistrate made no mention of religious conversions.

Muthuvel’s video went viral and was also shared by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tamil Nadu chief K. Annamalai.

The BJP went on a hunger strike, demanding justice for Lavanya and an investigation into attempts of forced conversions in Christian missionary schools. Meanwhile, as the school denied these allegations, the Madras High Court ordered a CBI probe into Lavanya’s death.

(Edited by Smriti Sinha)

Also read: In UP’s Fatehpur, 14 from church arrested in latest ‘conversion’ crackdown after VHP raises alarm

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