PUCL Bulletin, August 2001

Misuse of police in Chennai

Y.P. Chhibbar

What happened in Chennai in the night of June 29/30 has partly become controversial. But there are a few things on which there is no controversy between the Sun T.V. and the Jaya T.V., between the DMK view and the AIADMK view. Shri Karunanidhi was very roughly handled while being taken to the police vehicle after being arrested. He was arrested without a warrant of arrest. It was a matter of comment by the Principal Sessions Judge, S Ashok Kumar, that the police had not observed the instructions of the Court regarding Shri Karunanidhi's medical examination.

Tow days before, 150 media persons were arrested and roughly handled while they were proceeding to hand over to the Chief Minister a memorandum for the release of one of their colleagues.

We would also like to recount an old incident. On October 31, 1982 Shri VM Tarkunde, the then President of the PUCL, Shri K. G. Kannabiran, the then Organizing Secretary of the PUCL, and 50 other activists were rudely lathi charged in Madurai. They had assembled to participate in a silent march to protest against police access in Tamil Nadu. Prior permission for the procession had been taken. The assembled persons were in the process of tying cloth over their mouth, as the procession was to be a silent one. A journalist, Hari, from Chennai, began to take photos. The police stopped him and tried to seize his camera. Shri Tarkunde and Shri Kannabiran went to reason with the DSP, Mohammed Ali, so that no harm would come to the photographer. Even as they were talking to him, the DSP ordered 100 strong police party to charge the group with lathis. After that the DSP told the two, "We are arresting you". When Shri Tarkunde questioned his order, both were rudely pushed into the police van. In the police station they were made to sit on the boxes of the Police constables. Shri Tarkunde was pushed out of the police station. A constable stopped a city bus and pushed him into that. Tarkunde had lost his spectacles and does not know Tamil. He got down at the next stop and somehow reached Gandhi Museum where he was staying.

This incident and behaviour of the police raised a storm in the country. The PUCL received hundreds of letters and resolutions from individuals and organisations. The Chief Secretary of Tamil Nadu later phoned Shri Tarkunde and apologized.

In the June (present) case the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Crime Branch, CID is reported to have been one of the officers supervising the action. He is the same DSP Mohammed Ali who had used the same tactics at Madurai in 1982.Strong arm police behaviour to a very large extent is the legacy of the Emergency when the police was given a free hand just like pre-independence days when the British used the force to curb the National movement. Disregard of legal provisions, pronouncements of the Supreme Court can take place only at the behest of the political bosses.

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