S P Rajendran
THE Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) have vehemently condemned the police firing which killed 7 dalit people at Paramakudi, about 35 km from Ramanathapuram, a southern district of the nation, on September 11.
Paramakudi town, which a large number of people, particularly dalits, thronged to pay homage to their leader, Immanuel Sekaran, on the occasion of his 54th death anniversary, turned into a battlefield between the agitators and the police personnel.
The trouble started when a group of 200 persons, mostly belonging to the Tamizhaga Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), staged a road roko action, demanding the release of their leader, John Pandian. The TMMK leader was arrested by the police at Vallanadu in Tuticorin district, when he was about to proceed towards Paramakudi, about 60 km farther.
Chief minister Ms Jayalalithaa, in a statement, defended the police firing, saying it was resorted to in self-defence and to protect public property. She also claimed that a number of police personnel including a deputy inspector general of police were injured as a result of violence by the TMMK.
But the people complained that dalits were shot at indiscriminately by the police, without giving any warning.
Meanwhile, in Madurai, the police and a group of the TMMK workers engaged in an altercation, following which the police resorted to firing. Two persons were injured.
At Illyangudi, near Parmakudi, the police opened fire on a gathering of dalit people who were protesting against the Paramakudi firing. Here too, some persons were injured including a school student.
It may be recalled that these dalit people were agitated because a dalit student, Palanikumar (16), was hacked to death by a group of 10 persons belonging to caste Hindus. This happened on September 10 when Palanikumar was returning after watching a play. Following his murder, tension built up in and around Kamudhi and Mudukulathur areas near Paramakudi in the district.
CPI(M) state secretary G Ramakrishnan and P Sampath and K Samuel Raj of Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front strongly condemned these police firings on dalits, calling them senseless and undemocratic actions by the police.
In separate statements, they said that tens of thousands of dalits gathering to pay homage to Immanuel Sekaran was a usual event. This year, just a day before the anniversary, a dalit school student was murdered by a group belonging to the dominant caste, which had sparked tension in Ramanathapuram, Sivaganga and Virudhunagar districts.
The CPI(M) and the TNUEF have demanded that the state government must institute a judicial enquiry into the police firings. They have also demanded compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the families of the deceased and better treatment for the injured. They also said the government should take immediate steps to prevent atrocities and violence against dalits in the state.
The party also announced a statewide demonstration on September 17 condemning the police firing on dalits.
On September 12, chief minister Ms Jayalalithaa informed the assembly that a retired High Court judge would inquire into the police firing at Paramakudi.
However, she defended the firing again, saying the incident was the culmination of a chain of events that began with miscreants writing derogatory remarks against Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar on a wall and the subsequent murder of Palanikumar.
Though an inquiry by a district revenue officer (DRO) was ordered initially, Ms Jayalalithaa agreed to set up an inquiry commission headed by a retired High Court judge following the demands made by the CPI(M) and other opposition parties.
CPI(M) deputy leader in assembly, K Balabharathi, pressed for a judicial inquiry. He said the DRO, being subordinate to the Collector and the Superintendent of Police, might not be able to conduct a fair probe.
The chief minister ruled out the possibility of a judicial inquiry by a sitting judge of the High Court, saying the court would not spare a sitting judge for the purpose.Jayalalithaa said the AIADMK government had in the past constituted peace committees wherever the situation was volatile, and that these peace committees would be revived. She said five persons had already been arrested in connection with Palanikumar’s murder, and she had directed the police to take stringent action to bring the culprits to book.
courtesy- The Hindu, People's democracy