I come from the Union Territory of Puducherry, which has no record of encounter murders, except case of lock-up deaths. I am extremely happy to participate in the all India Conference. I am particularly thankful to Mr. Agni Subramaniam, the President of ‘Agni’. Also I extend my gratitude to the organisers of the event for providing me an opportunity, to meet and listen to the speakers and acquaint with their rich and varied experiences.
Our organisation had a humble beginning in 1989, dedicated to the cause of human rights in Pondicherry. on behalf of the Federation, I would like to share with you a few thoughts, on the topic ‘Encounter murders- caste, religious Background.’
Encounter murders are basically against the spirit of the Constitution of India, which assures the right to freedom of life to all citizens. Whereas, the Indian Penal code, under chapter 7 has provided for physical elimination of a person by a police officer, in exercise of self defense. This anomalous situation has strengthened the hands of the forces of oppression within the system, to carry on their violations, with impunity.
The National Human Rights Commission has time and again has given guidelines for adoption for the State Governments and Government Machinery, in the event of an occurrence of encounter murder. So far none of them have adhered to them in their practice during such happenings. This issue was also drew the attention of the recently concluded Two Days Seminar, conducted by the National Human Rights Commission in Bangalore. It was again stressed by all those participated in the event that the Commission should intensify its role and functioning in the area of encounter murders.
I would like to indicate the situation in Tamil Nadu, since 2006, after D.M.K. came to power, 8 encounter murders have been enacted by the State. The statistics from 1996 till date, reveals 24 murders by the State. This figure may seem negligible compared to the situations obtaining in other States in India. Given the social conditions and other realities particularly in the backdrop of people’s politics, this figure is really high.
We may aware that almost all encounter murders in the Country are fake and stage managed. If one analyses the F.I.Rs in these cases, we can easily understand that all circumstances narrated will have similar content and background.The melodrama staged by the Police would also be clearly discernible.
In Gujarat, the encounter murders are open and smack of Hindu-Fascist tendency.The truths unearthed, of late, in the State has testified the gross abuse of power and human rights violations on a large scale, that is unprecedented. Innocent Muslims have been the target in the encounter murders in the State, which is shocking and chilling our spines. The situation in Jammu and Kashmir is also more gruesome, as the Kashmiris, fighting for their liberation have been subjected to large scale human rights violations. Even common men are not spared in the deliberate attack by the so called disciplined forces of the country.
The prevalence of the caste background in the encounters in Tamil Nadu should be indicated at this stage. On 02.10.2006, in Thiruchi, one Muttai Ravi was murdered in an encounter by the State Police.This victim, though a supporter of the ruling D.M.K. was finished. Incidentally, he belonged to the authoritarian caste of ‘Kallar’.This murder has created a sense of discomfort among the dominant caste. Subsequently, in Mayiladurai, another man by name, Manalmedu Sankar , belonging to Dalit Community, was shot dead by the police in another encounter murder. Thus, the Police force in the state is’ systematic’ and has tallied the encounter murders in the State.
Similarly, on 12-12-2006, Bunk Kumar, a functionary of the P.M.K. was eliminated by the State. In order to keep the alliance partner in tact, the ruling class has enacted the murder. In all such encounters, the News Papers and Media has built up an image that is more sensational and important.In the erstwhile encounters in Tamil Nadu, the news of the encounter would appear only after the incident, now the media has been publishing the intended victim, in advance. Besides, the media are also publishing reports, in support of the encounter murders. This approach and attitude on the part of the media – the Fourth Estate- is despicable and has assumed dangerous trend emerging in a Democracy.
The people’s opinion are wooed to such media reports, in order to assist the State in justifying such transgression, is drawing the attention of the Human Rights Activists, who are much concerned with the increasing number of such cases.The other trend and tendency, on the part of the powers that be to finish the life of the innocent victims in Judicial custody is more alarming and punctuated now in the State. The hapless victims like Ravi, Rajaram, Sankar are examples of persons killed during Judicial Custody. But, Judiciary is calm over these atrocities.
In the case of sankar, while the Judiciary has ordered the authorities, to provide adequate protection to the life of the victim, he was killed by the police, in violation of the court orders, speaks volumes of the highhandedness and insubordination of the police. Further, the victim had also stated to have approached the Supreme court of India, apprehending police action to finish him.
To sum up, those who strongly believe in the Rule Of Law, should unitedly oppose the encounter murders in any form, enacted anywhere , under any condition.We shall also resolve in the conference a programme of action, to face the reality and safeguard individual liberty and freedom of life and help unfurl the flag of HUMAN RIGHTS IN INDIA.
Speech delivered in National Conference Against Encounter at Mumbai on 26-06-2007 organised by NCHRO.