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PUCL, December 2003


Justice denied
Prosecutions in the case of 8 dalit victims of Tsundur, Andhra Pradesh stalled for 12 years


-- By K.G.Kannabiran, National President, PUCL
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)
128, Hanuman Temple Street, East Maredupalli, Secunderabad- 500027
Phone: 27730632

&

JaladiI Moses, President, TCVA
Tsundur Carnage Victims’ Association (TCVA)
Ambedkar Nagar, Tsundur, Guntur Dist. AP (Phone: 08643-310453)
Hyderabad, 7 December 2003003

Background
We recall the mayhem carried in broad daylight in which 8 dalits were brutally hacked to death in the Tsundur village of Guntur on 6th August 1991 and their dead bodies were packed in gunny bags and thrown in the near by drain canals. There was much uproar and dalits and dalit and democratic rights organizations agitated over the issue.

In this sensational case, police ultimately charge-sheeted 219 persons (28 are no more) mostly belonging to reddy community under the SC&ST (Prevention of Atrocities ACT) and Sec. 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC etc. by the end of the year. The prosecution proposed to examine 135 witnesses. However, the case has been dragged on for the last 12 years due to the apathy of successive STATE Governments being compounded by the delay tactics of the accused in this massacre that has no parallel in the recent history in AP.

Delay till July 2003
For two years, the case could not reach the Spl. Sessions Court under the SC&ST (PA) Act, Guntur as 8 accused were not arrested by the police. Later the case against the absconding accused was separated and the case of the remaining accused (about 200) was committed to the Spl. Court in 1993. Later there was stalemate in the case as the accused raised an objection in 1994 that the victims belonged to Christian faith and hence there could not be a charge under the SC & ST (PA) Act. The matter was taken to the AP High Court by the accused as the Spl. Judge who gains held that the victims were Hindus. Later, the trial date was fixed up in October 1994, but the government taken no steps to get it held in Tsundur village as promised to the victims by it though a school building in the village was remodeled and furnished with a budget of about Rs. 4 lacks to hold camp Court.

So, renewing their demand for the trial in their village the dalit witnesses had refused to receive summons. Later the judge decided to hold the case trial at Tsundur village itself. The case was further stalled by the efforts of the accused challenging the choosing of Tsundur as the trial place. The case had been again taken to the AP High Court in 1994. However, the AP High Court in 1995 remanded the issue to the trial Court. Ultimately the trial judge in 1995 decided to hold the trial at Guntur instead of Tsundur.

Spl. PPs appointment much delayed
The dalits made two requests: 1) The trial should be held at Tsundur. This they insisted for the safety and security of the witnesses. 2) They demanded the appointment of Special Public Prosecutors. As the appointment of Public Prosecutors goes by political patronage, the dalit community of Tsundur wanted Special Public Prosecutors in whom there they have confidence be appointed.

It took five years to appoint Special Public Prosecutors as demanded by the victims. In August 2000, the government issued a G.G in that regard. But, the GO as the two advocated appointed as Spl.PPs were human rights activists. Court and take steps to get the case their appearance in the SPl. Court and take steps to get the case tried speedily. Nevertheless, the district civil and police administration has been indulging in creating all hurdles to delay the trial process.

Camp court building not renovated
As for the provision of camp Court at Tsundur the facts are as follows:

On 5.8.2003 the SPL Public Prosecutors filed a memorandum before the Spl. Judge to try the case in the camp Court at Tsundur. The Go appointing them, they pointed out, made it clear that the trial be taken place at Tsundur. Earlier also, in 1997 the AP High Court made a request to the Government to provide protection to the trial court in Tsundur while holding camp Court at Tsundur. Responding to it, the SP, Guntur writes the High Court that they would provide bundobust at Tsundur. The same was communicated to the trial Court by the High Court in 1998.

On 2.9.2003 the SPl. The Spl. Judge Mr. N. Balayogi addressed a letter to the District Collector Mr. Ramakrishna Rao requesting to make all necessary arrangements including security arrangements at Tsundur. However, even by 29.9.2003 there was no response from the District Collector, the Judge had no choice except postponing the case. Even by the day of next adjournment (31.10.2003), the building was not made ready by the administration. The case was again postponed to 27.11.2003. However, there was no response to this day from the District administration though some steps were taken to renovate the building. The case was again posted to 10.12.2003, which is incidentally International Human Rights Day. The collector thus, is response for about 3 months delay in trying the case.

Non co-operation by police to the Spl. P.Ps
On their part, police administration has not been taking any interest in this case. In spite of repeated requests by the special PPs, the concerned police officials have so far not handed over the CD files of the Tsundur carnage cases to them. The case record runs into about two thousand pages, which takes months to the prosecutors to prepare for effective layering on behalf of the prosecution. It is doubtful whether the entire case files are there with the police. The Inspector of Police, Tsundur told the representatives of the Victims Association that with much effort he could only trace a part of the record.

The police were not prompt enough to file the death certificate of one of the accused that died a couple of months ago though they were given one-month time. Thus in an indirect way they help those who are in need of delaying the case trial.

12 Year- old NBWs against 8 accused still to be executed
The case against the following eight absconding accused is pending with the committal Court in the Spl. Mobile Court, Guntur for the last 12 year with our being committed to the Spl. Court:
1) A119-Mr.KondamadugulaVenkatappa Reddy S/o Mr.Venkata Reddy, R/o Modukur,
2)A146- Mr.Kosana Ramakrishna Rao S/o Mr. Venkaiah @ Kirasanayilu Venkaiah, R/o Munnangivaripalem,
3) A151- Mr.Ikkurthi Venkateswarlu, S/o Mr.Subba Rao, R/o Munnagivaripalem,
4) A169- Mr.Gorrepati Krishna Reddy, S/o Mr.Rami Reddy, R/o Munnagivaripalem,
5) A170- Mr.Modugula Kotireddy, S/o Mr.Sambireddy, R/o Tsundur,
6) A176- Mr.Kosana Venkaiah @ Kirasanayilu Venkaiah, S/o Mr.Yedukondalu R/o Tsundur,
7)A184- Mr.Gorrepati Appireddy @ Babu, S/o Mr. Ramireddy, R/o Tsundur, and
8)A188- Mr.Bontha Papireddy S/o Mr. Kotireddy, R/o Munnagivaripalem.

They are yet to be arrested even after 12 years of filing of charge sheet. NBWs are pending against them for more than a decade. Both the Inspector of Police, Tsundur could not tell us where the separated case is pending. Though some of the absconding accused are very much present in Tsundur and surrounding places, no efforts are made.

Victims' Association made efforts and traced the case in the spl. Mobile Court, Guntur. Though the Magistrate addressed several letters in these 12 years to the police authorities concerned police have no9t been even attending to the court on the adjournment dates.

If immediate steps are not taken to arrest the absconding eight accused, and the case is not committed to Spl. Sessions Court immediately, the entire trial exercise is to be performed again for them. It results in wastage of the precious time of the hon'ble Spl. sessions Judge. Police department would be burdened with serving summons to all the 125 witnesses again at the expense of public money. The witnesses would loose their working days second time on attending to the trial second time.

Speedy trial is a Fundamental Right and provision of equal justice is a constitutional obligation and the State and its instrumentalities have been brazenly violating the fundamental right of the Dalit Community and have been guilty of flagrant breach of the constitutional obligation of providing equal justice to the victims and their community.

The IGP (PCR Cell) Mr. Mandanlal paid a visit to Guntur a month ago in the Tsundur case account. In a most discourteous way, he did not show any interest to see the Spl. Public Prosecutor Mr. B.Chandrasekhar who on his invitation visited the guesthouse where he was camping. He has not taken any steps to get the absconding 8 accused, nor showed any interest in removing hurdles in the conduct of speedy trial.

Our demands
Regardless of the case being a sensational one awaiting justice for 12 years, the attitude of the State Government and the district civil and police administration is highly reprehensible. We feel that it is an intentional one of helping the culprits. The attitude is an out come of racist understanding toward the dalits and their cause. It makes dalits loose faith in the administration of justice as they eagerly wait for justice.

We demand the Chief Minister Mr.Chandrababu Naidu to take steps to remove all the hurdles in way of the trial of the case on war footing and take action against all the officials, however high their position may be, for showing apathy towaaaards and causing delay in trying the case. We also demand for appointment of a committed special Officer to oversee the prosecution and coordinate between the Spl. Public prosecutors and district police and civil administration and the State Government.

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