Activists on Sunday staged a protest outside the house of actor turned DMK politician Radha Ravi after he compared political rivals to children with disabilities last week.
The speech had triggered an uproar and a petition was also filed against Ravi at the Teynampet police station by members of the December 3 movement, a disabled rights activists group in Tamil Nadu.
“We want the police to file an FIR against him under the recently passed Disabilities Act,” said vice president Deepak Nathan. “The point is not to make just an example of him - though the comments he made, mocking children with cerebral palsy and the like, were awful. But the point is to highlight that our politicians talk about disabilities with contempt.”
Ravi made the speech on March 1 at an event celebrating the birthday of DMK working president MK Stalin. In it, he equated PMK leader Anbumani Ramadoss and MDMK leader Vaiko to differently-abled children trying to play with regular kids.
“Premature babies - the ones who are born in 6 months instead of 10 months - their hands and legs get pulled, and their mouth keeps dripping saliva,” he had said, while impersonating them to laughs and cheers from the audience and those on stage, who included MLAs and functionaries of the party.
DMK leader and Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi condemned Ravi’s speech, saying that the actor, who joined the party in February after leaving the AIADMK, should “stop speaking about differently-abled people in a derogatory and mocking fashion. Kalaignar's cadre will not accept this. Having disabilities is indeed a small obstacle. But it is when you're emotionally weak that it is an even bigger obstacle. The differently-abled are people who have broken these emotional barriers."
While Ravi himself has not formally apologised for his speech, Nathan insists that criminal proceedings are the only way to go forward. “If he wishes to apologise let him do so in a court of law, where judges can decide on his punishment,” he says. “For too long Tamil politics and films have insulted people with disabilities and mocked them. It needs to stop.”
Further protests in Chennai are planned if an FIR isn’t filed against Ravi.