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  • Tamil Nadu

    1. Overview. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces 2
    3. Violations of the rights of the Dalits 2
    a. Denial of political freedom. 3
    b. Caste-based discrimination. 3
    4. Status of Tamil refugees 3
    5. Application of the national security laws 4


    1. Overview

    In July 2005, Tamil Nadu government banned the Communist Party of India (Maoist) under the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1908.[1] The state government converted the Special Task Force, previously dealing with operations against forest brigand Veerappan, into a special force to fight the Naxalites.[2] Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri districts were identified as Naxal-prone.[3]

    Illegal detention by the police continued in 2005. On 6 September 2005, a Division Bench of Madras High Court comprising Justice P D Dinakaran and Justice S K Krishnan ordered immediate release of four persons, two identified as Kuppan and Murugan, who were illegally detained to pressure on Bommi of Thoraipakkam to withdraw her writ petition seeking a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the encounter killing of three persons in November 2002 after Public Prosecutor K Duraisamy submitted that their further custody was not required for any other case.[4] 

    According to National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) of the Government of India, 8,648 cases of violence against women were reported during 2005. Of these, 571 were rape cases, 783 cases of kidnapping and abduction and 215 cases of dowry deaths.[5] In one case of sexual violence involving policeman, in August 2005, the State Human Rights Commission ordered police Head Constable Jayavel of Tiruttani police station to pay Rs. 10,000 as compensation to a sex worker identified as Lakshmi of Tiruttani who was beaten up by him after she refused to have sex with him. According to the doctor who treated the woman, found a “swelling over the middle of the right forearm with an abrasion of 3 cm x 2 cm.” The victim was working as secretary of the “Protection of Health care for Women” and campaigned for the protection of sex workers and their rehabilitation.[6]

    The Dalits continued to face atrocities and societal discrimination including political freedom. On 23 April 2005, Dalit candidate Azhagumalai reportedly resigned after within five minutes after taking charge of panchayat post as per diktat of his upper caste bosses in Keeripatti village.[7] In his resignation letter, Azhagaumalai had stated that it was not proper for the Dalits, a minority in the village, to occupy the post of president.[8]

    The Dalits faced systematic violence. The upper castes did not spare the children. A 15-year-old boy C Muthukumar of Arunthathiyar Colony in North Kaavalaakurichi under the Ooththumalai police station limits was tortured by an upper caste youth Kaalaisamy on 27 January 2005. The accused thrashed the Dalit boy, tied his hands at the back and then suspended him from his genitals in a well. Instead of taking stern action, the police allegedly released the accused without registering any case.[9]

    The conditions of about 20,000 tsunami-hit Dalits families remained deplorable due to discrimination in the rehabilitation assistance as on August 2005. According to Dalits' Rights Organisation, the survivors did not receive any relief for loss of property or livelihood and they were even discriminated in the construction of permanent shelters by segregating them despite over 70 orders having been passed by the government in the Dalit affected districts.[10]

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded deaths of 3 persons in police custody and death of 3 civilians in police firing in Tamil Nadu during 2005.[11] The NHRC recorded 9 deaths in police custody and 98 deaths in judicial custody in the state during 2004-2005.[12]

    On 21 January 2005, S. Auto Bhaskar reportedly died at a government hospital at Cheranmahadevi in Tirunelveli district while being in the custody of a Special Investigation Team. He had been arrested on the previous night in connection with a murder case. The Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Tirunelveli Range, K. Gopalakrishnan stated that a head injury the deceased had sustained earlier could be the cause of his sudden death.[13]

    On 9 August 2005, the Madras High Court asked the Central Bureau of Investigation to probe the alleged encounter death of Karnan, resident of Nainakaundanur village in Salem district, who was shot dead by an Inspector of Police in alleged “self-defense” on 25 February 2004. In the petition filed by the deceased's wife had alleged that her husband was subjected to brutal torture to obtain a confession during police custody.[14]

    Corruption was rampant among the police personnel. On 5 February 2005, Inspector Sampath Kumar and head constable Johan Badash, attached to the Avudaiyar Kovil Police Station, were arrested by Vigilance and Anti-Corruption officials for taking bribe for relieving a panchayat chairman from a criminal case in Pudukottai district.[15]

    3. Violations of the rights of the Dalits

    The National Crime Records Bureau recorded 1,206 cases of atrocities against the Dalits in Tamil Nadu which amounted to 4.6% of all the cases of atrocities against the Dalits in India during 2005. A total of 236 cases of atrocities against the Dalits were pending investigation by the police and another 2304 cases were pending trial in courts by the end of 2005. The conviction rate for the crime against the Dalits was only 25.2% during 2005.[16]

    a. Denial of political freedom

    Four village panchayats were reserved for the Dalits in Tamil Nadu. These were Keerippatti, Pappapatti and Nattarmangalam in Madurai district and Kottakkachiyendal in Virudhunagar district. But the upper caste Hindus had been preventing the Dalits from becoming panchayat heads.[17] On 23 April 2005, Azhagumalai, a Dalit, reportedly handed over his resignation within five minutes after being elected the head of Keerippatt village as per diktat of his upper caste landlords. He was fielded by the upper caste Thevars for the panchayat president election against a candidate of Dalit Panthers of India.[18] In his resignation letter, Azhagaumalai had stated that it was not proper for the Dalits, a minority in the village, to occupy the post of president.[19]

    Earlier on 12 April 2005, Karayanpatti Narasingam, a Dalit candidate of Dalit Panther party for the reserved constituency of Papapatti in Madurai district, was found dead with blood oozing out of his nose and mouth at Karayanpatti village under Uthappanaickuanur police station.[20]

    b. Caste-based discrimination

    The Dalits were victims of caste-based discrimination. About 15 Dalit families of Keeripatti village in Madurai district were reportedly deprived of work. They were also denied access to the village shops. A Dalit woman identified as P Lakshmi alleged that she was denied provisions in shops on 27 April 2005 despite presence of two police constables.[21]

    The Dalits were also denied participation in the Hindu religious Kandadevi car festival despite Madras High Court direction to the administration to ensure participation of all Hindus on 16 June 2005.[22]

    The conditions of the Tsunami-hit Dalits were deplorable. Tsunami-hit Dalits in 14 districts continued to face discrimination in the rehabilitation assistance as of August 2005. About 20,000 Dalit families were affected by the tsunami in the state. According to Dalits Rights Organisation, the survivors did not receive any relief for loss of property or livelihood and they even discriminated in the construction of permanent shelters by segregating them despite over 70 orders having been passed by the government in the Dalit affected districts such as Nagapattinam and Cuddallore.[23] While powerful Meenavars were being sheltered in relief camps “exclusively” built for them, the equally battered Muslims, Dalits, Nadars, Pillais, Devars and other lower castes— mostly non-fishermen— were living in separate camps which lack basic amenities.[24] Social activist Medha Patkar, who toured the tsunami-affected villages in the district, alleged that ex-gratia payment to relatives of those Dalits killed in the tsunami had also not been paid.[25]

    4. Status of Tamil refugees

    About 50,750 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka were staying in 103 refugee camps in Tamil Nadu and one camp in Orissa. In addition, about 17,064 refugees were staying outside the camps on their own.[26] In August 2005, the Union Home Ministry reportedly withdrew the subsidy on rice being provided to them citing administrative inconvenience. The Central Government's annual commitment on rice subsidy was Rs 7 crore per year while the State government bore an expenditure of around Rs 25 crore on cash doles, shelter, food, clothing and utensils in the camps, which were subsequently reimbursed by the Union Government.[27] The Government of India reportedly spent around Rs. 354 crore for providing relief and accommodation to them from July 1983 to December 2005.[28]

    5. Application of the national security laws

    In September 2004, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government repealed the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) and gave one year to the three Central POTA Review Committees, instituted in 2003, to review all the POTA cases. The Justice Usha Mehra Review Committee reviewed cases in seven states including Tamil Nadu.[29]

    However, the constitutional validity of the Central POTA Review Committees and their decisions on POTA cases were challenged by the State government of Tamil Nadu. In January 2005, the Tamil Nadu Government challenged two key provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Repeal) Ordinance 2004, promulgated in September 2004, and sought to quash all the proceedings of the Central POTA Review Committee. The first of the two impugned provisions, Section 2(3)(a), pertained to a mandate to review all cases registered under the POTA within 12 months. The other, Section 2(4)(b), conferred the powers of a civil court on the committee with powers to call for any public record from any court or office.[30] On 21 July 2005, the Madras High Court quashed the December 2002 Tamil Nadu Government order declaring the entire State a notified area for the purpose of Section 4(a) of the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The court also quashed the charge under Section 4(a) of POTA against Mr R.R. Gopal, editor of Tamil bi-weekly ‘Nakkheeran', by which he was accused of possessing a firearm within a ‘notified area'.[31]



    [1]. TN Govt bans CPI (Maoist), The Pioneer, 14 July 2005

    [2]. Twin track policy effective against naxals, The Hindu, 20 September 2005

    [3]. Jaya's plan to tackle Naxals gets Centre's nod, The Asian Age, 22 September 2005

    [4]. Court orders detailed probe into custodial torture of two detenus, The Hindu, 15 September 2005

    [5]. 2005-Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [6]. Rights panel directs policeman to pay compensation to sex worker, The Hindu, 12 August 2005

    [7]. Dalit resigns within 5 mins of assuming panchayat post, The Asian Age, 25 April 2005

    [8]. Dalits ostracized in TN village, The Central Chronicle, 6 May 2005

    [9]. Boy tortured by `upper caste' youth, The Hindu, 1 March 2005

    [10]. Dalits allege discrimination, The Deccan Herald, 27 August 2005

    [11]. 2005-Annnual Report of National Crime Records Bureau

    [12]. 2004-2005 Annual Report of NHRC of India, available at: http://nhrc.nic.in/Documents/AR/AR04-05ENG.pdf 

    [13]. Key accused in Aruna case dies in custody, The Central Chronicle, 22 January 2005

    [14]. Court asks CBI to probe encounter death, The Hindu, 10 August 2005

    [15]. Policemen held for graft, The Deccan Herald, 7 February 2005

    [16]. 2005 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau of the Government of India

    [17]. Disempowering Dalits, Frontline, Volume 22 - Issue 10, May 07 - 20, 2005

    [18]. Dalit resigns within 5 mins of assuming panchayat post, The Asian Age, 25 April 2005

    [19]. Dalits ostracized in TN village, The Central Chronicle, 6 May 2005

    [20]. Dalit candidate found dead, The Asian Age, 13 April 2005

    [21]. Dalits ostracized in TN village, The Central Chronicle, 6 May 2005

    [22]. Dalits prevented from taking part in Kandadevi festival, says petition, The Hindu, 10 August 2005

    [23]. Dalits allege discrimination, The Deccan Herald, 27 August 2005

    [24]. Even Govt divides survivors on caste, says it's practical, The Indian Express, 8 January 2005

    [25]. Relief efforts hamstrung by caste bias: Patkar, The Free Press Journal, 15 January 2005

    [26]. Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report-2005-06, http://mha.nic.in/Annual-Reports/ar0506-Eng.pdf

    [27]. Restore rice subsidy for Lankan refugees, The Pioneer, 26 August 2005

    [28]. Ministry of Home Affairs, Annual Report-2005-06, http://mha.nic.in/Annual-Reports/ar0506-Eng.pdf

    [29]. Under the shadow of a dead Act, The Telegraph, 13 July 2005

    [30]. Tamil Nadu plea against POTA ordinance referred to Bench, The Hindu, 8 January 2005

    [31]. POTA case against scribe quashed, The Pioneer, 22 July 2005

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