Journalist arrested in Chennai, political leaders & press bodies slam govt, BAPASI clarifies

The Chennai Police arrested a journalist on Sunday, a day after he displayed a book on the state government’s alleged corrupt activities at a book fair, the Chennai Press Club said. Police officials, however, said journalist V Anbazhagan’s arrest was not linked to his book.

V Anbazhagan was arrested by police on Sunday for allegedly displaying his book at the stall which was compiled and published by him.

Book fair authorities from BAPASI said they had asked Anbalagan to vacate the stall on Saturday evening, but he refused and even threatened and abused them, following which a complaint was filed. The next day the police arrested him.

The book fair management issued a notice asking him to vacate the stall as selling anti-government books was in violation of the prescribed guidelines.

The 13-day Chennai Book Fair, where the book titled ‘Corruption Book of Chennai Corporation’ was displayed, is being organised by the Book Sellers and Publishers Association (BAPASI) in Nandanam.
Anbazhagan had said that in his book he has used Right to Information (RTI) replies to highlight the alleged misappropriation of funds by the ruling All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) government.

Political leaders including DMK president M K Stalin, TTV Dhinakaran, Vaiko and the Chennai Press Club has condemned the arrest and has demanded his release.

The Club said that the journalist asked for a reason to vacate in writing and left the venue after the same was given to him. However, the book fair officials say a police complaint was filed against him as he allegedly attacked them when they asked him to vacate.

BAPASI denied the allegations and said that the complaint was filed as an act of self-protection by its Secretary SK Murugan after he was attacked.

“When we allow for a stall to be set up, we give the participants 21 rules to be followed.  It is made very clear that a book against the government or banned by the government cannot be displayed. We have the right to censor what content is put up in the stalls,” said RS Shanmugam, President of BAPASI. “Anbazhagan when told to vacate his stall for violating the rules refused to go and assaulted our Secretary,” he claimed.