Tamil Nadu – The curious case of police preventing ex-Maoists’ return to electoral path
We, the undersigned, wish to bring to the public’s notice a curious case of doublespeak by the state. The central and state governments constantly advise Maoists to give up arms and join the mainstream. But, in Tamil Nadu, the government in collusion with the police is torturing a group of ex-Maoists who have joined the mainstream. These comrades have given up armed struggle and have come out to function in the open under a party named People’s Democratic Republic Party (PDRP). They have also accepted the electoral path to pursue their mass line. It is clear from their case that the intention of the state is not to mainstream the armed fighters
but to incapacitate anyone who dares to criticize the state’s policies, without any compromise.
Earlier, many PDRP members were part of CPI (Maoist). Some of them were arrested and imprisoned under POTA in 2002, on charges of undergoing arms training in Uthangarai, Tamil Nadu. They eventually came out of the prison with women getting bail in 2005 and men in 2007. Many of the comrades who came out criticized the armed struggle line of CPI (Maoist) and stressed for a mass line. The CPI (Maoist) reacted to this by dismissing them from the party towards the end of 2007.
Some of the dismissed cadre started working under the name Puthiya Porali. Later, they started PDRP. Com. Duraisingavel (aged 52) started working as its president and his partner Ragini (aged 44) worked as the leader of the women’s wing. They started a political magazine named Puthiya Porali, which was circulated widely. So far, 3 issues have been released. It’s available even online. They have stressed on returning to the mass line in their pamphlets too. They have also taken part in public meetings.
Here are some examples of their participation in open forums/meetings. Com. Duraisingavel took part in the book release function of Prof. A. Marx’s Tamil book named Arabu Puratchi. He spoke on the occasion along with other speakers, including professors from the Madras University. He also spoke on the review meeting of Mao’s compilations, organized by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), in Chennai on May 5, 2013. He stressed the need for a mass line even in his TV interview to Puthiya Thalaimurai, a Tamil news channel, which aired a programme related to the Chhattisgarh killings by Maoists few weeks ago.
However, the events that happened at Kundrathur, a suburb of Chennai, in October 2012, show how the Tamil Nadu police and the clandestine organization Q branch, can’t deal with or welcome these changes among the PDRP comrades. On that fateful day, the PDRP members, along with their supporters and some educationists, were discussing their participation in elections in a meeting organized in a school. The police surrounded them suddenly, arrested and imprisoned them. Till this day, the police have maintained a stoic silence about why they arrested people who were discussing about returning to electoral politics! Com.Duraisingavel and Ragini were among those arrested.
Another important fact
Com.Duraisingavel and Com.Ragini started their life together after he got his bail in 2007. However, the peace was not to last too long because the Tamil Nadu police continued to harass them. The police claimed to search for a woman named Bharathi, who wasn’t arrested at Uthangarai in 2002; she was however charge-sheeted. Police didn’t even know whether Bharathi was male or female. They continued to torture the couple by claiming that Ragini was Bharathi. Due to continuous harassment (the Q branch visited their house every day), Ragini sought the High Court’s help.
Com.Ragini’s appeal (CrL. OP No.9141 of 2012 dated 16.04.2012) was heard by Justice Nagamuthu. The public prosecutor and the police responded that Ragini wasn’t required for arrest or for enquiry as of now. Then, the court ordered that if the police wanted to enquire Com. Ragini, they should follow proper criminal law procedure. It also cautioned them against harassing her under the hood of enquiry.
What happened now?
We were shocked to read reports of the couple’s arrest on 14.06.2013 from the Kadambathur railway station in the Dharmapuri district, where they were ‘caught’ distributing pamphlets. On enquiry, the actual sequence of events is as follows:
1. The couple were arrested in their house at Kundrathur, Chennai on 13.06.2013 at 11 PM, when they were having dinner. Com.Ragini tried to call a comrade as soon as some men barged into their house and dragged them out violently. The comrade who received the call realized that they were trouble because she couldn’t speak properly, and the call was cut abruptly. He informed other comrades, who also tried calling both their mobile numbers. But nobody could reach them. When they enquired the neighbours the next day morning, it was confirmed that the couple was dragged out of the house violently. When the comrades entered the house, they saw half-eaten food, which confirmed that there had been quite a scuffle.
2. The next day afternoon, High Court advocate, Sengodi contacted Mr.Sampath, the Commissioner of Q branch and asked him. He replied that they have taken the couple to Dharmapuri for enquiry. Therefore, the police version of arresting them in Dharmapuri is an outright lie.
3. The police have continuously harassed Com.Ragini and forced her to accept that she is Bharathi. This is brazenly against the prior mentioned court order. She is being harassed even in the prison on this issue. It has been exposed that the Tamil Nadu police is intent on arresting her under POTA in the Uthangarai case. Now, it has charged the couple under sections of CrPC 353, 124, 17(1) CLA.
One more important fact
Another oft-repeated blatant lie of the police is that the couple has missed attending the court proceedings. Actually, there are two cases pending on Com.Duraisingavel. One is the 2002 POTA case and the other is the 2012 Kundrathur case. The latter is yet to come for hearing, and Com.Duraisingavel has appeared without fail for each hearing of the POTA case. He appeared even on June 3, 2013 for the same case in the Poonamallee court, Chennai. Com. Ragini has only the Kundrathur case pending, and that’s yet to come for hearing. Hence, it’s an utter lie that the couple doesn’t appear for the court proceedings.
Our questions and demands
1. J.Jayalalitha, the Chief minister of Tamil Nadu, always says that she has wiped out the Naxalbari movement from the state. Everyone knows that PDRP comrades turned to mass line, including elections after being dismissed from CPI (Maoist), owing to their criticisms. So, how does one account for the harassment meted out to these comrades? Is it a message to those who belong to such organizations that they won’t be allowed to enter the mainstream even if they give up armed struggle?
2. Naxal Special wing, which has no work but to harass, and the Q branch, an organ above law, which was formed as an intelligence wing and later endowed with policing authority, should be abolished.
3. The sedition act, called as 124-A, was originally enacted by the British to harass freedom fighters during the Raj. It’s completely against citizen rights (Section 19) granted by our constitution. Our constitution grants rights to support or oppose the policies of the government. Moreover, it has granted unconditional rights to anyone to propagate his ideas, to build movements based on them and to collect funds for the organization. Hence, we strongly condemn applying 124-A, which is opposed to the above-mentioned rights, to harass various activists, from Binayak Sen to Com. Duraisingavael and Com. Ragini. The Tamil Nadu government should immediately stop harassing activists by this law. This anti-constitutional law should be scrapped.
4. The couple, who were functioning openly, was arrested in midnight in their home in Kundrathur, Chennai. They were violently dragged out of the house without even giving them an opportunity to inform their relatives or friends. The next day afternoon, a higher official of the Q branch tells their lawyer that they have been taken to Dharmapuri. Yet, a false case has been registered against them. Actually, they have been violently kidnapped. No procedures mentioned by the Supreme court in T.K.Basu case has been followed in this arrest. Hence, we demand the government to suspend the concerned police men, start an enquiry and punish them appropriately for committing such violations and spreading such lies.
5. The public prosecutor has admitted in the High Court that Com. Ragini is not Bharathi. The court has also ordered that Com. Ragini must be duly summoned if there’s a need for an enquiry. But, what we see now is that she has been violently kidnapped and threatened to accept that she is Bharathi. The police is trying to implicate her in the 2002 POTA case through these desperate measures. This is a clear case for contempt of court. A contempt of court case should be filed against the concerned police men and the police should abstain from harassing and trying to convict Com. Ragini under POTA.
6. Two people who were functioning openly have been arrested secretly. This kind of harassment meted out to those who have turned to electoral politics after giving up armed struggle goes completely against the government’s assurances or policies. Com.Duraisingavel and Com.Ragini should not only be released immediately, they should also be duly compensated for the harassment they have faced.
Prof.A.Marx, People’s Union for Human Rights
Ko.Sugumaran, People’s Rights Forum
Dr.P. Sivakumar and Prof.M.Thirumavalavan, Ex-Principals of Government colleges
Advocate Manoharan, People’s Lawyers Association
Advocate Rajini (Madurai)
Contact: Prof.A.Marx, 3/5, First cross street, Shastri nagar, Chennai – 600020, Mob: 94441 20582
(Translated from the press note released by the above on 20.06.2013, in Chennai)
(P.S: According to latest information, Tamil Nadu police has filed a case on Com.Ragini under POTA on 24-June-2013).