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Fact Finding Report on the Seshachalam “Encounter” Killings of 20 Tamil wage labourers by Andhra Pradesh STF Police

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The Fact Finding Team Report on the Seshachalam “Encounter” Killings of 20 Tamil wage labourers by Andhra Pradesh STF Police was released on 21.04.2015 at Chennai Press Club:

The killing of 20 wage workers who are alleged to have entered into Sechachalam forests near Tirupathi on April 7th by the Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders Anti Smuggling Task Force (APRSASTF) has shocked everyone. The death of so many unarmed workers who had gone in search of employment without any political or other motives and the increased frequency of such occurrences has created a furore among the civil society. That most often these killings are targeted on Tamil workers has increased concern and anger in Tamil Nadu. The widespread notion that this is a’ fake encounter ‘ based on the visible evidences of the bullet injuries above the chest and on the head, has been articulated not only by civil society organizations in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh but also even by Andhra Pradesh opposition parties. Further the eye-witness statements that have emerged now indicate that some of these workers were actually travelling in buses and autos and were pulled out by STF police add credibility to the belief that the encounter being a stage managed exercise by Andhra STF Police. While the Andhra Police and the AP government have continued to justify these killings, emerging facts are quite contrary. When the loopholes in the police story are pointed out, the DGP of Andhra Pradesh Y.V.Ramudu was able to say only that the police knows better than the activists and journalists who raise these doubts.

However the swift response by civil society groups such as APCLC have resulted now in the filing of two criminal cases against the police teams which perpetrated these crimes. In this context, a fact finding team was constituted to document the available evidences of the encounter, the politics behind red sanders smuggling and the socio economic conditions of the gunned down Tamil workers that forced them to do such risky and illegal jobs.

The members of the Fact Finding team were:

Prof. A. Marx, Chair Person, National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO)

Ko. Sugumaran , ExCo Member NCHRO and Secretary, Federation for People’s Rights, Puducherry

Prof. Praba. Kalvimani, Irular Tribals Protection Committee,Tindivanam.

Srinivasan, Environmental Activist, Chennai

Ramani, Democratic Trade Union Council, Chennai,

Mohammad Tanveer, ExCo Member, NCHRO, Chennai,

Kandasamy, Dalit People Cultural Kazhagam,

Parimala, Ilam Thamilagam Iyyakam, Chennai,

Prof. S. Kochadai, People’s Education Movement, Karaikudi,

Adv. Thamayanthi, Vidiyal Women Council, Salem,

Adv. Thai. Kandasamy, Dalit Cultural Front, Thiruthuraipoondi,

Abdul Samad, Manithaneya Makkal Katchi, Puducherry,

Vinayagam, People Liberation – News Magazine, Thiruvannamalai,

Adv. Sekar, People Advocate Group, Thiruvannamalai,

Vediyappan , Civil Society Activist, Dharumapuri,

Adv. Maniyarasan, Sengam, Thiruvannamalai,

Bharathidasan – Ilam Thamilagam Iyyakam, Chennai.

Methodology

Since the Andhra Government had promulgated section 144 in the areas where the alleged encounter seem to have taken place and officials are prevented from talking to civil rights groups, the fact finding team could not visit the site or talk to the concerned police and district officials. The team however visited on April 15th and 16th, the villages of the gunned down wage labourers near Padavedu in Polur Taluk (Thiruvannamalai District), Namiambadi of Jamunamaruthur block and Arasanatham and nearby villages of Chitteri hills (Dharmapuri District) from where most of these workers hailed. The team members spoke extensively to the families of the slain workers except that of PanneerSelvam of Melakanavayur and Sasikumar of Kallukadu , and carefully analysed the socio economic living conditions of the workers in these areas. The team also collected details on various aspects of the killings including media reports, social media blogs, Forest Rights Act and earlier reports on red sanders smuggling and its politics.

The alleged encounter on April 7 and the events that followed 

At about 10 am on April 7th the visual media reported that around 20 workers who were indulging in felling of red sanders trees were intercepted by APRSASTF and killed in the encounter that followed. The police released reports saying that on April 7th around 5.30-6 am while combing the forests ,around 100 workers armed with stones, sticks, sickle etc attacked the police and in self defense the police team under the control of DIG Kantharao shot them. While 20 of them died the remaining escaped into the forest.

But many loopholes in the above story were pointed out by media and civil society groups saying that the bullet injuries were found above the chest which suggested that these were deliberate killings and were not done in self-protection. In the next two days, the police returned the autopsied bodies of workers with death certificate and a FIR detailing accusations against these workers including unauthorized entry, felling of banned natural resources and attack on police personnel. The FIRs cited the following sections: criminal code 147,148,307,332 r/w 149 Andhra Pradesh State Forest Act 20(1), (2), (3), (4), 44 and Biological Diversity Act 7, 24(1), 55. (Reference: FIR 42/2015, April 7, 2015, Chandragiri Police Station, Thirupathi, Time of occurrence of the crime: April 7, 2015, Tuesday between 5.30 and 6.00 am)

Details of those killed

The slain workers were S. Mahendran (22), G. Moorthy(38), G. Munusamy (35), K. Perumal (37), Sasikumar(34), Murugan (38), V.Palani(35) from Padavedu, Thiruvannamalai, R. Paneerselvam (22), Govindasamy(42), Rajendran (30), Chinnasamy (48), Vallimuthu (18) of Jamunamarudur of Thiruvannamalai, Harikrishnan(52), Venkatesan (23), Sivakumar(25), Lakshman(23), Lakshman (46), Velayudham (25), Sivalingam (42) of Chitteri Hills of Dharmapuri and Sasikumar of Salem District.

Of those killed thirteen Malayali hill tribes, one from Boyar community and six workers were from the Vanniyar community.

Subsequent events exposed more number of contradictions in the police version. The media were shown two sites of encounters about a kilometer apart with 9 workers dead in one spot and 11 workers in another spot. That the felled trees lined along with the bodies of the workers were numbered proved that these wooden logs are already seized by the police and kept in their possession.

Eye –Witnesses make hole in ‘encounter’ story

Subsequent to the killings, three workers who escaped the encounter came forward to provide more light on the incident and this contradicted the police version of the incident. Their testimonies showed that the workers were not intercepted by the police at the ‘alleged site ‘of killing but were kidnapped by the STF police while they were travelling in buses and autos. According to Balachandran, one of the workers who escaped, eight persons including him had been brought from Chitteri by a message from an agent named Pudur Venkatesan on April 4th. The message was conveyed to them by Mahendran and Palani of Padavedu both of them are now killed. They spent one day in Jamunamarathur in Jawadhi hills and were then brought to Kannamangalam. From there they were to be taken to Renigunta via Thiruthani on April 6th. One Sekar of Padavedu who is an uncle of Mahendran also joined them there. Of these people group of people Balachandran and Sekar escaped the encounter by mere chance.

Balachandran who had gone to visit a friend in Kannamangalam, got drunk and missed the bus and had returned back to his village.

Sekar from Padavedu was the other person who missed the encounter. He had filed his evidence before NHRC stating that he was in the bus along with other workers, when he noticed that others were made to get down from the bus by the AP police. As he was sitting next to a woman, the police mistook him to be the husband of that woman and left him in the bus. Sensing trouble Sekar got down at the next stop and returned to the village.

Ilango is another worker who accompanied Paneerselvam and were travelling in an auto, when they were intercepted by a police team and bundled into a van where around 30 people were herded .They were brought to what looked like a forest office and he escaped from the place where they were kept captive in the cover of darkness. All these evidences point to, that these workers were’ picked’ up by the police on April 6th evening and were not ‘intercepted ‘on April 7th morning in the forest, as alleged by the police. All these evidences have been documented before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by Peoples Watch, a human rights organization from Madurai. From these evidences, it is well established, that more than 20 workers were kidnapped by the STF police and the fate of other workers are unknown.

Of the 13 tribal Malayalees killed the bodies of 8 were cremated and 5 buried. The body of the Boyar youth Palani is cremated. The family members of the six slain Vanniyar youths refused to accept the bodies as they had extensive injuries which suggests that they might have been killed after torture The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) activists took the initiative in filing a writ by the family members of these six youths for re- autopsy before AP High Court. The AP High Court ordered a second autopsy to be conducted at Tiruvananmalai GH, by a specially constituted team of doctors from AP. Now the second autopsy is conducted and the report submitted to the court.This could throw more light on the killings. After the second autopsy these bodies are now buried.

APCLC has filed a PIL based on which FIRs have been filed against the APSASTF personnel on charges including kidnapping and murdering of individuals.

Socio-economic conditions of Victims

According to the relatives of the workers, none of the workers were involved in tree felling. Their work involved primarily in construction sector, painting and coffee estates and that the workers often travelled for work outside Tamil Nadu. Evidences of painting tools were found in the houses of Sasikumar and Murugan. However, most of the family members of the slain workers could not explain why these workers were traveling in the Thirupathi region. Earlier some of the relatives had also accepted that these workers had gone for tree felling, before media.

Our interactions with the families show that the families are afraid that the illegal nature of their work could justify the brutal encounter. With more interactions, some of the social economic conditions in which they live emerged. These are not workers who engage in full time tree felling. When there is a dire need for generating income, the tree felling becomes one of the easier avenues for it. The agents also mislead them and tell them that they have either got license from the government or that they have bribed the officials, thus assuring no problems from official sources. The lure of high income is also another factor for choosing this kind of employment. Most of these workers are not educated except Palani who had completed teacher training and Mahendran who is pursuing degree via distance learning. Most of the workers who were murdered were below the age of 40 and their wives are below 30.

Most of these tribals have less than an acre of land and practice rain fed agriculture. There is no infrastructure for harvesting water in this region and no infrastructure for sale of their produce, or even proper road to carry their produce to the markets below. The village has very inadequate infrastructure for the betterment of the tribals. There is not even a cemetery or a common burying ground and the slain bodies of the Malayalees are now buried in their own lands. The Tribal Welfare schools in these areas are without basic infrastructures and adequate no of teachers. The Nammiambadi Residential School with 60 students has only one headmaster, security and cook. The headmaster has to double as warden. One school in Chitteri hills has 172 students but with only 2 teachers.

These regions also do not have adequate medical infrastructure or medical personnel. 99% of the births happen at home and postnatal registrations are made in the hospital to avail the Rs. 12,000 under the Muthulakshmi Reddy welfare scheme of the Tamilnadu government. There is no adequate nutrition for both adults and children and infant mortality rate is high according to Vidyasagar, a UNICEF researcher working in that area. The women seemed anemic and weak. As Dr. Binayak Sen has documented, the tribals do not have adequate weight for their height, usually indicating malnutrition, something that could be observed in this region too.

Forest Rights Act 2006 was enacted to protect the rights of tribals as traditional custodians of forests. According to Bijoy who was one of the members of the drafting committee of this act, 1.5 million tribals have benefited with the distribution of 3 million hectare lands. However, this act has not been implemented in Tamil Nadu and even the welfare funds allocated for the betterment of tribals are hardly used for the purpose it is intended. Often it is transferred to other departments. With no implementation of these acts, the tribals often face harassments by forest officials. With these deplorable living conditions, it is not surprising, that the workers opt for illegal felling of trees as a source of employment.

Red sanders and the ‘politics ‘of smuggling

Red Sanders, one of the costliest woods in the world is abundant in the Seshachalam forest spread in Thitupathi and Kadappa Dts. It is estimated that about 14 million trees are in this area. It is well suited for fine artistic works and is also demanded for its medicinal values. In the year 2000 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared Red Sanders as one of the endangered species which increased severe controls in cutting, transporting and selling it to the Buddhist countries such as China, Japan and Burma where there is a great demand for this non aromatic sandal wood pieces. At the same time taking risk in this underground trade also earns unimaginable huge profit. The price of 1 Kg of this wood in 2009 was just Rs 100. Now it is Rs 2000.

A Red Sanders mafia developed in this way has close connection with the political class and the huge black money earned in this way plays now a decisive role in the electoral politics of Andhra Pradesh. A key figure in this mafia world, one Kollam Gangi Reddy is a big shot and a financier of YSR Congress. He is now arrested in Mauritius. Another important person in this black trade is one Kishore Kumar Reddy who is a brother of Congress leader and former CM Kiran Kumar Reddy. Though there are sandalwood mafias in Chandrababy Naidu’s Telugu Desam parrty also, they are not so strong in this trade when compared to the mafias in the two congress parties. In the recent assembly election in which Telugu Desam had a clean sweep it actually fared very bad in these two districts of Chittoor and Cuddappa. The YSR cong did well here. Even before Chandrababu Naidu assumed charge as CM, he convened a meeting of top police officers and asked them to put an end to this menace within ten days. The officers who were sympathetic to congress parties had been transferred and enormous powers given to the special task force against Red Sandes smuggling. The APRSASTF is formed in Nov 2014 and DIG M.Kantharao is appointed as its chief. It is this STFunder Kantharao that killed these 20
persons.

What the CM Chandrababu Naidu expected through these measures has happened now. The Red sanders mafia has now begin to show respects to Naidu.

The hands of Tamilians are also present in the operation of Red Sanders mafia. In Vellore, a former folk dancer Mohanambal, was arrested and Rs 4.4 crore cash and 72 sovereign gold
earned from smuggling of red sandalwood, were confiscated from her. She is said to have 30 residential properties in Tamil Nadu and Andhrah. During the last parliamentary election, 32
lakh rupees suspected to be earned through smuggling of red sanders were confiscated by election officials in Ercaud, a hill resort in Salem Dt.

The smuggling operation continues with the benefit going to the top and the risk mostly taken by the workers at the bottom, as the recent incident has exposed. Last year, 7 Tamil workers
were shot dead by the police in a similar incident. While Tamil Workers are preferred due to their technical skills native workers are also involved in these operations at various levels.

However such encounter killings and arrests are mostly targeted against Tamil Workers selectively to avoid any possible political repercussions locally. A fact finding team (NCDNTHR
and HRF) report on the earlier incident when 7 Tamil workers were killed had also drawn our attention to this fact.

In this poaching industry there are many ‘layers’ in between these workers who do the actual work of identifying, cutting and shifting them from the dense forest and the mafia that benefits
enormously from them. The relation between the different layers is obscure and not easily intelligible to the people on the lower rungs. In the current incident, two of the slain workers
Palani and Mahendran had given the actual travel plan to the rest of the workers and the communication is said to have come from one Pudur Venkatesan. These travel plans are decided and communicated within a short time span. Most often the public transport network is also utilized by them cleverly. The drivers and conductors of the public transport system are
also in the network at some levels. As the wood cutters from Tamilnadu are brought to the villages near the forest they are made to stay in the houses of local dalit or tribal communities.
The final destination is usually reached via a vehicle or by walk if there is no road. A ‘pilot’ takes them to the spot where the trees are to be felled and they are given little food and necessary tools. Their job is to fell the trees and carry about 25 kg each to another designated spot and have to leave from this spot. The money for this work is usually collected from the agents who sent them only after they reach back their villages. Most often they are not given the promised amount.

Once the workers have left the trees at the designated spot, these are transported in lorries. A separate lorry designated for ’capturing’ is usually sent as a decoy. All the officials including forestry, police and politicians have a share in this according to the locals. These wooden logs are packed, bargained and exported by the top level mafia . Finally these wood pieces are shipped as consignments of vegetables or fruits.

Languishing’ tamil ‘workers in Andhra Prisons

In December 2013, Sridhar Rao and David Karunakar, two forest officials were murdered brutally. Sridhar Rao is said to be a very honest official. The police version is that these officials
were killed by the wood cutters when they are about to be nabbed by these officials. It is also widely believed that the 7 Tamils were shot dead in vengeance to the killing of these foresters.
It is also said that the hands of some top level mafia and STF personnal are in the killings of the officers as one of them was too honest to approach. Whatever be the background, now
hundreds of Tamil workers are now arrested and charged for the murder of theese officials and are languishing in various prisons in AP.

From Arasanatham and Kalasapadi alone at least nine people are now incarcerated in AP prisons on these charges. They are Murugesan, Kamaraj, Sathiyaraj, Dharman, Venkatachalam,
Mahendran, Sivalingam, Govindasamy and Aandi. Of these the first six are languishing for the past one and half years without bail. We spoke to one Maheswari (30) w/o Venkatachalam (35)
and Alamelu w/o Dharman and few others. They however state that their husbands had gone to Thirupathi on a religious pilgrimage and were arrested by Andhra police when they answered
their questions in Tamil. Dharman had gone to Thirupathi with his wife, brother and children and while returning he went with his brother to a tea shop on the other side of the road
leaving his wife and children. Three people had approached him and enquired something. When he answered in Tamil, they forcefully took him away. Only after his wife approached a local
lawyer she came to know that he was remanded first in Kadappa prison and then shifted to Palur. Another youth Ramesh of Melkupsanur village had also been arrested in a similar way but
managed to escape after pleading innocence.

According to the locals, over 430 people were arrested on the murder charges of the forest officials and 100 people were released on bail. All these 100 people now released are Telugu
speaking natives. The other 330 Tamil speaking people continue to be incarcerated. One Advocate Chalapathi of Kadappa is their lawyer. When they asked him about this he replied that
the court won’t allow the Tamils to go on bail since they would abscond thereafter. Each of these family members has given Rs 22,000 to this lawyer as his fees. Each of them had spent at least another Rs 35,000 in this process.

With tears in their eyes these women lamented that absolutely without any income they are now suffering with their children. Their husbands in the prison lost hope of coming out and advices them to learn to live without them.

When we asked the women that in what basisthey say that 430 people were arrested for the murder of the forest officials, they were not able to reply.

According to DGP J.V. Ramudu, after 2014, 831 cases have been filed related to smuggling of redwood sandals and 5239 people have been arrested, 715 vehicles and 15,520 tree segments
have been confiscated. Out of this, 2202 are Telugus and 3033 are from other states predominantly from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 31 smugglers have been arrested out of which 16 are Telegu speaking and 10 Tamilians and 3 are from Karnataka and 2 are from other states.13 of these people have been released on bail. (Deccan Chronicle, April 15, 2015).

From this statement of the DGP we understand that there should be more than 2000 Tamilians in judicial custody in AP. All of these are mostly from Scheduled Tribes and Most Backward Communities from the adjoining districts of Tamilnadu. Most of them have been arrested from the bus stands and railway stations when they were found answering their queries in Tamil.

In the current instance, the Andhra Police has said that 61 individuals have been arrested in addition to the 20 encounter deaths. However, those who escaped say that more than 150
people were captured on that day by the STF. There is still no information on the missing personnel.

Tamil Nadu Political Parties compensation to slain victims’ families

Political parties in Tamil Nadu have come forward to provide compensation to the families of the 20 slain workers. Tamil Nadu Government has given a compensation of Rs 3 lakhs each,
AIADMK has given Rs 2 lakhs each, DMK- 1 lakh each, DMDK – Rs 50000 each and GK Vasan Congress Rs 25000 each. PMK has announced educational assistance to the children of the
deceased. BJP has said that they will not provide any financial assistance but is exploring long term assistance to these families.

Meanwhile in a bizarre turn of events, the AP Government has auctioned one tone of red sandal wood for Rs 27 lakhs and generated revenue of around Rs 850 crores in Nov 2014 and is
planning for another auction in May 2015.The AP government has also requested the Central Government to remove red sandal wood from the endangered species list.

Demands

1. Due to the persistent demands of the human rights organizations, the AP state has been pressurized into action and now it has filed two criminal murder cases against the
APRSASTF personal. Of these two cases, only in one case an officer was named. All others involved in the encounters are marked as unknown personal. This seems to be a measure of evading justice and we don’t believe that justice will be done to the victims. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) must be constituted and its investigation is to be monitored by the Supreme Court. All officials including the APRSASTF chief Kantha Rao must be placed under suspension until the investigation is complete.

2. The AP government should provide a compensation of Rs 30 lakhs for the families of each of the 20 workers killed.

3. The ban on entry into the ‘encounter’ areas under section 144 and the shoot at sight order must be revoked so that officials and civil society may ensure that there were no
other casualties in this incident and also to track the missing workers. NHRC must also initiate an investigation on the missing workers.

4. We demand a judicial probe under a high court judge who does not belong to either Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh to investigate the nexus between the red sanders smuggling mafia and the political actors.

5. A detailed list of all the prisoners who have been captured in relation to red sandalwood smuggling should be published by the Andhra Pradesh Government. It should also be

published with all details online.

6. Thousands of Tamilians are languishing in jails imprisoned on charges of red sandalwood smuggling and murder of two forest officials. They are all from impoverished tribal and most backward communities, predominantly from Thiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri, Salem and Vellore Districts. Most of these people have been caught and imprisoned when they were travelling en route to various destinations and most of them were not really caught in smuggling or felling of red sanders. The Andhra DGP confirms that there are numerous workers from Tamilnadu and Karnataka in
the jails of AP. All these people should be released on general amnesty immediately. The Tamil Nadu Government must take steps legally and politically to ensure the release of
these workers.

7. It is estimated that more than 1.4 crore redwood trees are in Seshachalam and Nallamalla forests. These should be enumerated immediately and the details are to be published. The Andhra Government is said to have 10,000 tons of sandalwood recovered from smuggling. These should be auctioned and the money earned should be used for rehabilitation and betterment of tribal communities in these forests. When Chandrababu Naidu’s Government sold the first auction in 2014 May, the Mutt Pathanchali Yoga Peet of Baba Ramdev is said to have procured Rs 270 crore worth of the red sanders at a rate of 27 lakhs per ton. Such groups which procure red sanders via legal auction tend to sell these for greater profits in export market, where the price is said to be Rs 1 crore per ton. This kind of profiteering should be banned. An investigation should be conducted on how Baba Ramdev’s group has been procuring red sandal wood for medicinal purposes so far.

8. An expert committee must be constituted to protect and safeguard the bio-diversity of red sandal wood trees. New saplings must be planted to compensate the felled trees.

9. The lack of implementation of Forest Rights Act by Tamil Nadu Government is to be condemned. The State must immediately take steps to remove the legal impediments in the implementation of these laws and provide at least 2 hectare land for each of the tribal family, who constitute 1% of state population. Sensitization programs must be conducted for the forest officials on the issues of tribal communities and their rights.

10. The inadequate infrastructure in residential schools and medical facilities in Tribal habitations should be strengthened. For every 20 students in these schools, a teacher should be appointed and duly monitored to ensure that they are doing their job. The meals provided in these schools are substandard and unfit for consumption and need to be strengthened with adequate nutrition including vegetables, meat and fruits. The primary health centers with adequate doctors and nurses should be constructed in these regions and should be monitored for effective implementation of health care services. NRHM trained nurses should be appointed in the villages with the task of monitoring and implementing pre and post natal maternal and child care health services and prevention of malnutrition and blindness.

11. Infrastructure such as roads to tribal hamlets in hill regions should be developed and access to public transport facilities should be provided for the community. The public transport system should allow the tribal farmers to carry their commodities to markets. The government should encourage millet cultivation for the well being of these farmers. The government should setup procurement centers for buying the produce from farmers and eliminate the exploitation of middlemen. Agro based industries must be promoted in these regions. Rain Water harvesting and collection structures should be constructed.

12. The non-tribal communities such as Vanniyars and Boyers who live near the Jawadhi hills and who are as much embroiled in the red sanders felling are in similar socio economic distress as tribal communities. The Government must promote dry land agriculture and welfare policies for these communities. The state should implement MGNREGA effectively in these regions.

13. Several regional non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations including APCLC, HRF, NCDNTHR and PUDR have not only condemned the atrocities of the Andhra Pradesh State Government and Police but have also actively taken legal and other actions to counter state terror. We hold our deepest appreciations to such organizations. The poor families Tamilians who are affected by the State Actions find it difficult to come to Andhra to pursue any legal actions against the state, financially and otherwise. We request these groups to initiate a lawyer’s forum which can take up legal actions on behalf of these affected workers.

14. We strongly condemn the inaction of Tamil Nadu Government which has only paid mere lip service by condemning the actions of Andhra Government and has not taken any substantive steps. The Tamil Nadu State Government should take various legal and political actions to ensure punitive measures for those involved in the encounter, ensure appropriate compensation for the slain affected families and take effective steps to free those who are still imprisoned in Andhra Pradesh.

15. Tamil Nadu Government should provide government employment to the wives of all the slain workers based on their eligibility and also undertake the educational expenses for the victims’ children.

Details of some of them are below:

Name.of Victim                 Name of Wife.             Age.             No of Children             Age

Murugan                           Thanjaiammal               –                    2  –

Sasikumar                          Muniammal                 –                    2                   4 and 2

Munusamy                         Thanjaiammal             –                    2                   3 and 2

Perumal                              Selvi                   –                    3    –

Govindasvamy                     Muthammal              –                   4                 3, 10, 5 and 4

Rajendaran                         Nadia                   20       (2 months Pregnant) –

Venkatesan                         Kanakarani              20       (married 6 months back)  –

Velayutham                           Padma                 20                  1                       1.5

Human Rights Activists Condemn the Arrest of 13 Members of Peoples Democratic Republic Party

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The Tamil Nadu Q Branch police have arrested 13 members of Peoples Democratic Republic Party on October 6, 2012 in Kundrathur near Chennai city. They were discussing peacefully some party matters in a school building after getting due permission from the school Principal. Since the children of some of the members were studying in the school, the principal willingly permitted them to assemble and discuss in his school premises. They are now arrested and remanded to judicial custody in Vellore central prison. A case under section Cr.L.A 17 (1) is registered against them.

The police have said that they all belong to a banned political outfit and had assembled there secretly and planning some conspiracy. But only three of them, Durai Singavelu, Bhaskar and Palani were members of the Maoist party. They too left that party due to some political differences four years back and were openly functioning. Last year they declared a political outfit under the name ‘Peoples Democratic Republic Party’ and continued to function openly.  They have a Face Book account in the same name and their party organ ‘Puthiya Porali’ is also openly distributed.

The other people arrested on that day with them are well educated and are working in various institutions. One is an Asst. Professor in International Tamil Institute, and another is an electronics engineer. The only woman arrested is the wife of Durai Singavelu. Their organization is not at all a secret one and they were functioning perfectly legally.

The police have said that they were planning to participate in the 2004 parliamentary elections and were discussing about organizing trade union branches in the nearby factories. One national newspaper has also reported that they were not taking part in any arms training and at the time of arrest they were only discussing some ideological matters. We wonder how such activities can be branded as conspiracy and illegal. The Constitution of India has made it a fundamental right for every citizen to assemble, organize and float a political outfit to propagate its policies. We firmly believe that by arresting these 13 people, the Tamil Nadu Q Branch police have violated their constitutional rights. It is to be remembered that last month the Q Branch arrested in a similar manner one Satish and a DMK party functionary Muralidharan near Chennai Anna Library and remanded them.

Arresting people who are functioning legally and openly and branding them as extremists has no place in constitutional governance. This is done with a view to threaten people against organizing themselves. We strongly condemn this act of the Tamil Nadu police and demand that Durai Singavelu and the 12 others arrested should be released immediately and the case against them should be withdrawn.

Signatories:

Prof. A. Marx, Peoples Union for Human Rights, Chennai.

G. Sugumaran, Federation for Peoples Rights, Puducherry.

S.V.Rajadurai (K.Manoharan), Veteran Human Rights activist, Coonoor.

Prof.P. Kalvimani, Movement for the Protection of Trbal Irulas, Tindivanam.

Advocate Rajini, Peoples Union for Human Rights, Madurai.

Take action against the Officer protecting the Professor who degraded Tamil and National Leaders

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Federation for People’s Rights (FPR) organized a Political Parties and Social Organisations Meeting Today (2nd October, 2011) at 10 am at Chamber of Commerce. The meeting was presided by the Federation Secretary G. Sugumaran.  Ira. Azhagiri, President, Tamil Nationalist Movement, G.C. Chandran President Singaravelar Munnetra Kazhagam, G.A. Jagannathan, Former President, Karikalampakkam Village Panchayat, Ka. Thamizhamallan, President, Thani Thamizh Iyakkam, C. Murthy, President, Puratchiyalar Ambedkar Makkal Padai, U. Muthu, General secretary, All India Forward Bloc, M.A. Asraf, District President, Kamal Basha, District Treasurer, Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), R. Abimannan, President, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), K. Rammurthy, President, Sembadugai Naneeragam, P.Parankusam,  President, Ilakkiya Pozhil Ilakkiya Mandram, Seenu. Thamizhmani, President, Poovulagin Nanbargal, C.M. Putatchivendan, President, Makkal Janasakthi Iyakkam, Puduvai Thamizhnenjan, Puduvai Thamizh Ezuththalar Kazhagam, S. Chinappa, President, Athiappa Chemical Pvt Ltd Employees Union, Sathu. Arimavalavan, ATLAS and others attended the meeting.

The following resolutions were adopted in the meeting:

1. P.V. Bose, Asst. Professor of Music Department in Bharthiar Palkalai Koodam (BPK) said in a meeting held at the room of the Head of the Department that “it is a waste of time to sing the songs of leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and those who are singing such songs before the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Mahakavi Bharathiar, Pavendar Bharathidasan at the government functions are beggars. The Thamizh Thai Vazhthu song written by Bharathidasan is not a valuable song to sing in any government functions.” And also he told the students not to sing the songs of these leaders. He will not teach in Tamil in classes and also used to utter words degrading the Tamil language.

In this regard, the students of BPK conducted struggle and submitted memorandum to various government higher officials. Based on this complaint a Departmental Enquiry was instituted against P.V. Bose and he was placed under suspension. 8 persons including Lecturers of BPK and noted Tamil Scholar Mannar Mannan deposed before the Enquiry Officer, the then Art and Culture Special Secretary Kannaji. On 07.02.2010, based on this enquiry, Kannaji issued a warning memo stating ”P.V. Bose conduct showing disrespect towards the Father of Nation and Mahakavi Bharathiar has been found objectionable by the Hon’ble Minister (Art and Culture)-cum-Chairman (BPK). He is warned that he should improve his attitude to the National Leaders.  If he continues his objectionable attitude to the National Leaders, he may lose his job.” But, Mathew Samuel, who assumed as the Special Secretary of Department of Art and Culture has cancelled the warning memo issued to P.V. Bose on 06.05.2011 instead of taking stringent action.

We strongly condemn the attitude of Mathew Samuel by excising his official power illegally supporting and saving a guilty person who degraded the National Leaders and Tamil Language. We also demand the Puducherry government to order for an enquiry in this regard under the head of Chief Secretary and sack the guilty person P.V. Bose from service. Also take action against Mathew Samuel who covered the incident of degrading the national Leaders who fought for freedom.

2. L. Annapurna, Asst. Professor of Music Department in BPK was getting salary without any work. For past two years not even a single student joined in her Veena class. The BPK which is facing financial crisis has giving thousands of rupees as salary for her and it is an utter waste of public money. As per general decision taken in the Governing Body of BPK if necessary to transfer the Teaching Staff to Bal Bhavan, we urge the government to transfer L. Annapurna from BPK to Bal Bhavan.

3. The Member Secretary of BPK Kuppusamy is creating unnecessary problems to the staffs to extract money as bribe and in this regard the staffs are complained to the authorities seeking action against him. After this he never changed his attitude and continuing his bribing practice on his own way. It is notable that while he was working in Housing Board, he indulged in lot of mismanagement and corruption and was booked and arrested by C.B.I. and now he was facing a trial in Puducherry Court.  In this context we press the Puducherry government to order for a Departmental Enquiry and immediately place him under suspension.

4. Pressing the said demands, we are organizing a Demonstration on 10.10.2011 at 10 pm near the Chief Secretary Office and the various Political Parties and Social Organisation Leaders will participate in the demo.