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  • Tamil Nadu

    1. Overview.. 1
    2. Human rights violations by the security forces. 2
    3. Violence against women and children. 3
    4. Violations of the rights of the Dalits. 3
    5. Status of the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees. 4


    1. Overview

    Ruled by Dravida Munnettra Kazhagam (DMK), Tamil Nadu was virtually free from violence by the armed opposition groups but a number of such groups including the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) of Sri Lanka, Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), Tamil National Retrieval Troops (TNRT), Tamil Nadu Liberation Army (TNLA), Tamilar Viduthalai Iyakkam, and Communist Party of India (Maoists) remained banned under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.[1]

    In July 2006, Tamil Nadu Government withdrew its writ petition against a ruling of Central Review Committee under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) that there was no prima facie case against Tamilar Desiya Iyakkam leader P. Nedumaran and four others identified as Suba Veerapandian, Thayappan, Shahul Hameed and Pudukottai Pavannan. In 2005, the Central Review Committee under POTA, comprising its Chairperson Justice Usha Mehra and members RC Jha and Raj Pal had concluded that there was no prima facie case available to proceed against the accused. The State Government challenged the findings and filed another petition challenging two key provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Repeal) Ordinance 2004 and sought to quash all proceedings of the Review Committee. The second petition was pending in court.[2]

    The Tamil Nadu Police personnel were responsible for gross human rights violations which included violation of the right to life in custody and in indiscriminate firing. At least five persons were killed in custody including four in police custody and one in judicial custody.

    The rights of the asylum seekers were violated. Due to fresh upsurge of violence in Sri Lanka thousands of refugees fled to India. However, according to the report of a fact-finding team of the Federation of Peoples' Rights, young men arriving at the Mandapam camp were initially put into quarantine under conditions worse than those of a prison cell. The fact-finding team saw 39 male refugees lodged in a 20'x20' space with only two toilets between them. Those suspected of having links with LTTE were referred to Special camps where they may be detained in quarantine for up to 30 days as per the stipulation of the Government of India.[3]

    The judiciary continued to suffer from lack of adequate judges. By the end of  December 2006, there were five vacancies in the Madras High Court while there were 53 vacancies in the District and Subordinates Courts as on 30 September 2006. This was despite the fact that a total of 4,04,297 cases were pending with the Madras High Court and a total of 8,48,414 cases were pending with the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30 September 2006.[4]

    2. Human rights violations by the security forces

    The security forces especially Tamil Nadu Police were responsible for gross human rights violations which included violation of the right to life in custody and in indiscriminate firing.

    As per official figures, four cases of death in police custody have been reported in 2006 up to 30 June.[5] On the midnight of 6 November 2006, another undertrial identified as Madhu (40) of Ammapet, lodged at Bhavani Central Prison, reportedly died of chest pain after being taken to Bhavani Government Hospital. But the family of the deceased alleged that he died of torture at the hands of the police and the jail authorities.[6]

    Custodial killings were often dismissed as suicides. On 13 February 2006, one Devaraj, who was picked up for questioning in connection with a theft case on the previous day was found dead hanging with his lungi inside the cell of Kuzhithurai police station.[7]

    On 3 May 2006, C. Paramasivan of Oorudaiyaankudiyiruppu under the Thatchanallur police station limit reportedly died on way to the Tirunelveli Medical College Hospital after he allegedly tried to hang himself inside the cell at the police station. The deceased was picked up by the Munneerpallam police and was taken to the police station on the previous night for interrogation in connection with a robbery.[8]

    The police also resorted to indiscriminate use of fire-arms to disperse crowd. During the year upto 15 August 2006, police opened fire on nine occasions, killing at least three civilians and injuring 16 others.[9]

    3. Violence against women and children

    The State Government of Tamil Nadu reportedly took various measures to enhance the protection of women. These included the creation of Women Help Lines/Child Lines and Counselling Centres in all women police stations.

    However, violence against women continued to be reported in the State. According to the police records, a total of 1,825 crimes against women were reported during the year up to June 2006, while a total of 2,715 in 2005 and 2,365 in 2004 were reported during the same time of the respective years. The crimes recorded up to June 2006 included 218 rapes, 350 kidnapping and abduction, 74 dowry deaths, 573 cruelty by husband/relatives and 610 molestations.[10] According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 8,648 cases of violence against women were reported in the State during 2005.

    Although, a State Women Commission was established, it lacked statutory power. As such, the Tamil Nadu Women Commission was unable to play a critical role in safeguarding the rights and privileges of women.[11]

    The state of juvenile homes, observation homes and shelter homes in Tamil Nadu continued to be pathetic. In October 2006, the Madras High Court formed a committee, headed by retired High Court judge Justice N.V. Balasubramanian, to suggest comprehensive remedial measures. According to the report of Justice P. Jyothimani of the High Court, who visited a juvenile home in Madurai, juvenile homes lacked even clothes, food, medicine, and toilet facility. Besides, there was no attempt to educate and rehabilitate the children by providing them schooling or modern vocational training. Mentally or physically handicapped children of such Homes were not admitted in special institutions. The High Court directed the State Government to increase the food budget from Rs. 7.50 to Rs. 15 per head a day.[12]

    Child labour was also common in Tamil Nadu. According to the survey conducted by Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan in 2003, there were 70,344 child labourers in the State.[13]

    4. Violations of the rights of the Dalits

    National Crime Records Bureau recorded 1,206 cases of crimes against the     Scheduled Castes in 2005. These included 30 murder cases, 19 rape cases, 829 cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act etc.

    Violence against Dalits continued in 2006. On 7 April 2006, Jessintha, wife of Dalit leader Pasupathi Pandian, was killed after about 20 unidentified persons attacked their car at Eppothumvendran bridge near Tuticorin. Pasupasthi Pandian was on his way to Tuticorin for attending the trial of a murder case, in which he was an accused.[14]

    On 20 March 2006, Dalit youth identified as Mathesh was attacked by unidentified men with sickles and rods when he protested the discriminatory practice of serving `prasatham' (sweet rice) in his palms instead of on plantain leaf at an annual temple function at Ponnammapet in Salem. He was rushed to Salem Government Hospital where he received eight stitches on his head, chest and face.[15]

    Discrimination against the Dalits tsunami victims also persisted. According to a report of the United Nations team for recovery support (UNTRS), aid meant for their rehabilitation never reached the Dalits due to their caste, gender and occupational bias.[16]

    5. Status of the Sri Lankan Tamil refugees

    There were an estimated 1,60,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees in India, with over 55,000 of them living in refugee camps. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has no mandate to operate directly in India.[17]

    Due to fresh upsurge of violence in Sri Lanka thousands of refugees fled to India creating problem of overcrowding in the existing camps. In October 2006, about 378 refugees belonging to 99 families were accommodated at Thappathy under Ettayapuram taluk in Tuticorin district from Mandapam camps due to overcrowding.[18] As on 19 September 2006, 13,844 refugees had reached the State since the influx began on 12 January 2006.[19]

    The conditions of these refugees were deplorable. According to the report of a fact-finding team of the Federation of Peoples' Rights, young men arriving at the Mandapam camp were initially put into quarantine under conditions worse than those of a prison cell. The fact-finding team saw 39 male refugees lodged in a 20'x20' space with only two toilets between them. Those suspected of having links with AOGs were referred to Special camps where they may be detained in quarantine for up to 30 days as per the stipulation of the Government of India.[20]

    The refugees also faced housing problems. The houses provided to them were 10'x10' and not fit to live in. These houses were built at the end of the 1980s and no renovation had been done since then. During summer, it becomes inhospitable because of the scorching heat, while in rainy season the water pours through the damaged roofs. The camps lacked basic facilities including bathroom facilities, drinking water facilities, electricity, etc.[21]  



    [1]. Home Department Tamil Nadu Police, Policy Note for 2006-2007, http://www.tn.gov.in/police/HomePolice2006.pdf

    [2]. State withdraws writ petition against POTA panel ruling, The Hindu, 15 July 2006

    [3]. Condition of Eelam Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu: a fact finding report by team of the Federation of Peoples' Rights, available at: http://peoplesrights.googlepages.com/english

    [4]. Court News, October-December 2006, The Supreme Court of India

    [5]. Home Department Tamil Nadu Police, Policy Note for 2006-2007, http://www.tn.gov.in/police/HomePolice2006.pdf

    [6]. Man dies in judicial custody, The Hindu, 8 November 2006 

    [7]. Man picked up for questioning found hanging, The Times of India, 14 February 2006 

    [8]. Youth dies under police custody, The Hindu, 4 May 2006 

    [9]. Home Department Tamil Nadu Police, Policy Note for 2006-2007, http://www.tn.gov.in/police/HomePolice2006.pdf

    [10]. Home Department Tamil Nadu Police, Policy Note for 2006-2007, http://www.tn.gov.in/police/HomePolice2006.pdf

    [11]. Statutory powers sought for State Women's Commission, The Hindu, 6 March 2007

    [12]. Panel to suggest ways for improving amenities in juvenile homes, The Hindu, 31 October 2006

    [13]. State Child Labour Rehabilitation Cum Welfare Society, Government of Tamil Nadu, available at: http://www.tnchildlabour.tn.gov.in/magnitude.htm

    [14]. Pasupathi Pandian's wife killed in attack, The Hindu, 8 April 2006 

    [15]. Dalit youth beaten up, The Hindu, 22 March 2006 

    [16]. Tsunami relief riddled with bias: UN - Dalits, Women And Farmers Deprived Of Compensation, Says Report, The Times of India, 3 March 2006 

    [17]. 33 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees reach TN shores, The Pioneer, 14 January 2006 

    [18]. 378 refugees accommodated at camp in Tuticorin district, The Hindu, 30 October 2006 

    [19]. Discriminate between refugees, anti-social elements: Karunanidhi, Police urged to resort to coordinated action, The Hindu, 19 September 2006

    [20]. Condition of Eelam Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu: a fact finding report by team of the Federation of Peoples' Rights, available at: http://peoplesrights.googlepages.com/english

    [21]. Condition of Eelam Tamil refugees in Tamil Nadu: a fact finding report by team of the Federation of Peoples' Rights, available at: http://peoplesrights.googlepages.com/english

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