Coordinator of the May 17 Movement, Thirumurugan Gandhi, was released last week from the Central prison in Vellore after almost eight weeks of imprisonment.
Having originally been arrested at Bengaluru’s Kempegowda International Airport in early August on sedition charges, the activist was since booked for having protested against the establishment of the 227-kilometer Chennai-Salem highway project under the National Highways Authority of India, among other charges.
Recently, Gandhi was arrested for speaking at the United Nations about the police shootings following the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi earlier this year. After his arrest, Gandhi was allegedly required to travel 9200 kilometers in order to settle the multitude of cases registered against him across Tamil Nadu, according to his lawyer C. Arun Kumar.
During his time in jail, the May 17 Movement reported that Gandhi's health had deteriorated significantly, and that he was grappling with digestive and hepatic issues. The leader was subsequently taken from the jail to a special ward at the local government hospital in Adukkamparai, despite the Vellore police recommending against it.
DMK president M.K. Stalin visited Gandhi during his time at the hospital, who has since recovered.
"Being a transparent and democratic movement reflecting the anger and anxieties of the Tamil people, May 17 Movement is ready to face any situation to bring a democratic rule to the state," Gandhi assured when approached by reporters.
After his release on October 2, he was greeted by fellow members of the May 17 Movement, along with supporters and representatives from the Social Democratic Party of India and festooned the Vellore Periyar statue with a garland.
Stalin's meeting with Gandhi was condemned by BJP national secretary H. Raja, who told journalists at Mannargudi that "it was not fair on the part of an opposition leader [Stalin] to have met a person who spoke against India." Raja has previously lashed out at several journalists and politicians in the past for expressing "anti-Indian" views, and was widely criticised for recent derogatory comments towards the police.