Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Thank you all for the support, phone calls and emails to the officials. It has definitely had some impact. Here’s an update on the situation right now.
Status of the police complaint filed by the People
Apparently, Walajabad Police has registered a FIR yesterday under Crime No. 360/2012 under Section 147, 148, 447, 427, 323, 506 Part I of IPC and Section 3 of Tamil Nadu Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act 1992 (called as PPDL Act in short). But we are yet to get to get a copy of the FIR, so details like names of accused, how many persons are charged, charges made out in FIR, etc are not known. Also, some of the sections seem to be too frivolous (details of the provisions of these sections are given at the end of this mail). We will probably have a clearer picture by evening today once we get a copy of the FIR.
However, the pertinent issue is that accused persons have not been arrested so far. They are still freely roaming about Thenneri village, which in itself is an intimidating factor for the Irula people.
Meeting with the District Collector and Revenue District Officer
The victims of Thenneri, along with their relatives and supporters decided to meet the District Collector today and represent their grievance. More than 100 people had gathered in the Kancheepuram Collectorate office from 9.00 AM onwards. As it was a grievance day, the people thought that the Collector would reach the grievance cell by 10 a.m. But to their disappointment he arrived at the Cell around 12 O'clock after holding a discussion in the main block. Since hundreds of people had gathered at the entrance, the Collector had to stand and attend to their grievance. He promised to look into the matter and assured that he would provide protection for them as well as arrange for title deeds. While the people were waiting for the Collector, several media people interviewed them.
After meeting the Collector, the people met the R.D.O. (the guy who had earlier given an assurance to give them title deeds within a week). In the first round of talks, he said that he would provide them house sites along with title deeds in a different location in the same village. The people asked why he hesitated to give them titles to same site where they had lived for years; he said it would create unnecessary community clashes. When the people refused to accept the offer saying that it would be against their self respect and dignity to move to a different place after having undergone so much of abuse at the hands of the Mudaliar, he replied that he needed time to make a study of the land and see whether he could provide title deeds. He also promised that he would make arrangements for their safety. The people were not satisfied with his answers and asked why he had earlier assured them of providing title deeds in the place where they lived. He had no answer to their question and just remained silent.
As people were not satisfied with his vague and uncommitted reply, they went to meet him again to ask whether they could put up huts in the same place where they had already lived. This time he had a good excuse to deny their demand. He said that Thenneri is a notified monumental site and the recent amendments of the ASI Act 2007, does not allow any development around 100 metres of the site and as the site the people demand comes within the restricted limit, there is no chance of providing title deeds. “In that case all the other encroachments, particularly those of Ekambaram Mudaliar have to be removed; then we would agree to your stand”, said the people. He nodded that he would evict the encroachments. However, he did not seem to be confident of himself and say it in so many words.
Later when the people returned to their village in the evening, the revenue officials have shown them a site that is quite remote and are trying to force them to accept it. When the people refused to accept the offer, the officials have asked them to give their refusal in writing.
Now the two families, whose houses were pulled off by the Mudaliar, are staying in their relatives’ houses. The ones who were admitted in the Hospital are still under medical care.
Follow up Action
We are trying to get this claim of the RDO (that the disputed porombokku land falls within the restricted limit of 100 metres of a notified monument) verified independently. This is news to us. How come he forgot to mention it till now and assured the people that they would be given title deeds to the land on which they had lived?
It would help if friends and supporters can call up the RDO and enquire as to what is going on? Why did he go back on his words? The lives and livelihoods of these people would be very adversely affected if they had to more to some other area. The new area is very remote and they would still be isolated and without protection. Apart from that it is a question of justice, self respect and dignity for these people. Please do call him and request him now to cow down to pressure from dominant caste rich persons, but to stand by these marginalized people.
Please call the SP / DSP to put pressure on them to arrest the accused persons immediately. Their roaming scot free in Thenneri is bound to keep the Irula people in a state of terror. They fear for their lives, mobility and freedom.
Sections which have been invoked in the FIR
506. Punishment for criminal intimidation
Part (1) - Whoever commits, the offence of criminal intimidation shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both; (Punishment—Imprisonment for 2 years, or fine, or both—Non-cognizable - Bailable - Triable by any Magistrate—Compoundable by the person intimidated.)
Part (2) - If threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, etc.—And if the threat be to cause death or grievous hurt, or to cause the destruction of any property by fire, or to cause an offence punishable with death or [imprisonment for life], or with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, or to impute, unchastity to a woman, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, or with fine, or with both. (Punishment—Imprisonment for 7 years, or fine, or both—Non-cognizable—Bailable—Triable by Magistrate of the first class—Non-compoundable.)In this case only 506 part (1) has been invoked.
A terrible atrocity is unfolding against the Irula people in Thenneri village at the hands of the dominant Mudaliar caste. There are 10 Irula families living in Thenneri Village, Walajabad Taluk, Kancheepuram District. Irulars are an adivasi community (listed as scheduled tribe) mainly living in Northern districts of Tamil Nadu. In this village, they are living on government land (Natham Porambokku) for the past 15 years. Two Irula families are living on a piece of land which is close to the property owned by one Ekambaram Mudaliar. He has encroached around an acre of porambokku land including the piece of land on which these two Irula families live. This Ekambaram Mudaliar is a landlord who is running several businesses.
In the past few months, these 10 families had applied for caste certificate and title deed (patta) for the land on which they live, with the help of Makkal Mandram. Karthi, an Irula youth from Thenneri village, is very active in Makkal Mandram for several years. As a result of the initiative taken by the people and regular follow up, the 10 families managed to get their caste certificates during the last week. The Revenue District Officer (RDO) of Kancheepuram, who gave these certificates, had also conducted an enquiry about the ownership of land and had assured these people that they will be given title deed (pattas) for the porambokku land on which they have their homesteads.
Since the moment Ekambaram Mudaliar came to know of this plan of the government, he tried to coerce the two Irula families to vacate their houses and leave the village, as if they were doing so voluntarily. They refused to do so. The other Irula families in the village supported them.
On the night of 16.06.2012, Ekambaram Mudaliar, his son-in-law Abel who is a former councilor, accompanied by a gang of ten persons came to these two Irula houses. One family is a woman headed household. Punitha, a 45 years old widow lives with her son Sivamani who is 21 and daughter Renu who is 17. The other family comprises Doraisamy, who is around 40, his visually handicapped wife, Perundevi and their five children. Their oldest son is 15 years old.
This violent mob came, threatened and abused the Irula people. They brought a tractor and stationed it very close to these two Irula houses. The gang repeatedly called them Irula dogs and used the most vulgar swear words. They kept intimidating the two families that they won’t be alive if they didn’t leave the Mudaliar land. They stoned the houses heavily. Several members of these two Irula families got hurt due to the stones. The light bulb hanging outside the huts broke. These family members were dragged out, pushed, jostled and beaten up. They kept asking for Karthi repeatedly. This went on for a long time. All the Irula families resisted and refused to leave the village.
Earlier in the day, Ekambaram Mudaliar had gone to the Walajabad Police Station to give a complaint against these two families, stating they had encroached upon his land. The Sub Inspector, Thulasirajan called Punitha to the station. At around 6 O’clock in the evening, Makkal Mandram activists accompanied Punitha to the Station and brought out the facts viz., that it was porambokku land on which these families were living for the past 15 years, which was in fact encroached by Ekambaram Mudaliar. Further, RDO enquiry was over and he had given an assurance that title deeds to that very piece of land would be given to the Irula families soon. The police agreed that it was a civil matter and beyond their jurisdiction. They let Punitha go home.
Today morning viz 17.06.2012 at 6 AM, Ekambaram Mudaliar and Abel returned with a bigger gang of hired henchmen (around 50 persons) lethally armed with sticks and stones. Some of the goondas who came with them are Dalits living in the Thenneri Dalit colony. They forcibly dragged the two families out of their homes. Then the gang entered these two homes and threw out the utensils, clothes and other things on the road. As other Irula families gathered, they were also brutally attacked with sticks and stones along with members of these two families. Karthi was specifically targeted and attacked. The thatched roof of the houses was broken and pulled apart. The tractor parked since last night was used to bulldoze the mud walls. The gang snatched the cell phones of the Irula people to prevent them from calling for help. Even grievously hurt persons were forcibly kept in confinement in the village. Somehow Karthi and Punitha escaped and reached Makkal Mandram at around 8 O’clock.
The others were repeatedly and beaten up with sticks, stones, hands etc continuously. They were kicked even after they fell down. They were abused in the foulest language with many casteist slurs and threatened to be thrown out of the village once and for all. This horrendous treatment went on till 12 noon. Makkal Mandram kept calling all the higher police officials in Kancheepuram district since 8 AM to send some police personnel to protect the Irula people. The police kept assuring that a team was on its way. Since the situation was worsening by the moment, Makkal Mandram went directly to the DSP’s office and Walajabad Police Station to follow up. It was only then that six police men were sent to Thenneri village along with the Makkal Mandram team. It was only after they reached the village, that the Irula people were rescued, brought and admitted to Kancheepuram Government Hospital.
Thirteen persons have been admitted to hospital with various injuries. The names of the persons are:
Punitha w/o. Narayan – Age 45
Karthi s/o. Mani – Age 27
Mahesh s/o. Mani - Age 23
Manogaran s/o. Parthiban - Age 21
Jayappan s/o. Parthiban – Age 18
Satish s/o. Parthiban – Age 16
Sivamani s/o. Narayanan – Age 21
Yuvaraj s/o. Devaraj – Age 21
Koteeswaran s/o. Ramesh – Age 18
Ari s/o. Ramesh – Age 19
Palani s/o. Boopalan – Age 20
Satya s/o Doraisamy – Age 15
Doraisamy s/o Chinnasamy – Age 40
Most of them have internal injuries. Many were kicked on the chest. Doraisamy has chest pain and difficulty in breathing. Palani has a fracture in his left hand. Mahesh can’t hear since he was hit on the side of the face. Punitha’s right hand is badly swollen. Karthi was punched in the stomach and chest repeatedly and has severe chest pain.
Meanwhile, Karthi has lodged a complaint against Ekambaram Mudaliar and his gang at the Walajabad Police Station. Makkal Mandram met Sri Chandrasekhar DSP, once again late in the afternoon and requested him to book Ekambaram Mudaliar under the SC / ST (Atrocities) Act. The DSP has stated that it is not possible to book Ekambaram Mudaliar and others under this act as the crime committed by them would not fall under its ambit. He has also said that the provisions of Section 307 of IPC (attempt to murder) would not be attracted. Makkal Mandram also spoke with Sri. Manoharan, Superintendent of Police, Kancheepuram over phone. However, there is no progress in the case. Till the time of sending out this mail viz., 9.00 PM, no FIR has been filed.
Ekambaram Mudaliar’s goons are still intimidating the shell-shocked Irula people in Thenneri village. The latest report we have received from the village is that Ekambaram Mudaliar’s gang once again came to Karthi’s house around 9. 00 PM and threatened the other family members present there saying ‘tonight we will rid this village of you Irula dogs once and for all as we have powerful links with the bureaucracy’.
The situation in Thenneri village is very risky for the Irula people right now. We are apprehensive due to the indifferent way in which the government is treating the entire matter. The police are treating it as a routine group clash case. The district administration (RDO and his staff) are not taking responsibility at this juncture. We are unable to understand why the culprit Ekambaram Mudaliar cannot be booked under SC/ST Atrocities Act. Tribal houses have been completed demolished. Tribal people have been subjected to physical and emotional violence at his hands. He is a powerful person with lots of influence. He has used his power and influence to not only encroach upon government land but against totally powerless and marginalized people. If this case does not fall under atrocity based on caste/ community, then what would? Would people have to die or women have to be raped to invoke Atrocities Act?
Please lend your support urgently. We request all of you to please call up or write to the Kancheepuram district officials (phone / fax / email ids listed below) and urge them to take the following actions:
- book the culprits and arrest them immediately, so that immediate protection for the Irula people of Thenneri will is ensured.
- conduct an enquiry (by the DSP) and book them under SC/ST Atrocities Act and Section
- ensure adequate protection for all the Irula families in Thenneri.
- Give them the title deeds to that land immediately.
Please send us a copy of your fax or mail for reference.
Anticipating your support,
List of Kancheepuram District Officials
Office – 044- 2737433
Res. – 044-27238478
Fax – 044 – 27237789 / 27238477
Superintendent of Police
Office – 044 – 27237720 / 27238070
Cell No - 9840962359
Sri. R. Thirugnanam
Office – 044-2739009
Deputy Superintendent of Police
Office – 044 – 27233100
Mobile – 9840140829
Sri. Kanni Kannan
Inspector (Station Incharge)
Walajabad Police Station
Office – 044 – 27256044
Cell No. 9445465396
Chief Minister’s Special Cell
Secretariat Chennai – 600 009
PBX No. 044 – 25665566
Special Officer (Direct) – 044 – 25671764
Fax – 044 - 25676929
Revenue District Officer
Office – 044 -7237081
Mobile - 9445000413