The police in Tamil Nadu’s Salem district arrested environmental activist Piyush Manush on Monday, The News Minute reported. Manush had been protesting against the expansion of the Salem airport and the proposed eight-lane Chennai-Salem expressway.
The police had on Sunday detained actor Mansoor Ali Khan for protesting the proposed projects.
Salem Superintendent of Police Georgy George said that Manush has been detained for questioning, but did not clarify what he was being interrogated about, or where he has been held. The News Minute said that a lawyer, Manikandan, had approached Tamil Nadu Director General of Police Thiru TK Rajendran with a complaint against Manush, claiming that the activist was “inviting people [to protest] against developmental projects”.
Manush had criticised Khan’s arrest on Sunday in a Facebook post. On Monday, the police charged Manush under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code with “promoting enmity between groups”.
Khan had visited Salem on Sunday and told reporters that people would not able to live in the city, if the airport and expressway were constructed. “I came to Salem to see the water bodies filled with water. If Salem gets an airport, 8-lane highway etc, people can’t live in Salem,” he said according to The Indian Express. “The state and the central government must not implement it. If there are protests against the highway, I will definitely participate. If the eight-lane project is implemented, I will kill eight people and go to jail.”
Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami said in the Assembly that of the 1,900 hectares of land being acquired for the expressway, 400 hectares belong to the government. He claimed that the expressway would be built inside a tunnel when it passes through forest areas.