People’s Watch Tamil Nadu have undertaken a fact finding mission in relation to the alleged police shooting of at least 6 Dalits, when police fired into a crowd on Sunday 11 September at Paramakudi in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The preliminary findings confirm that police were to blame for the incident and that several of those allegedly shot dead had in fact been subjected to brutal police torture.
The police claim that the crowd of Dalits, who were commemorating the death anniversary of Emmanuel Sekaran, a dalit activist who was murdered on September 11, 1957 in a caste conflict, became unruly. Police claim to have first tried to deter the crowd with tear gas before shooting. The fact finding mission does not find evidence to corroborate this and also finds that many of the gun shot wounds were above the waist. Beyond this findings point towards that several of those allegedly shot in the crowd were Dalit activists that had been brutally tortured to death by the police.
The fact that police have not allowed the families of the deceased any access to the bodies or allowed the witness the postmortem only confirms these findings and People’s Watch therefore urgently calls for a re-post mortem of all the bodies to be conducted by a team of doctors only in the presence of family members or their authorised representatives and in the presence of human rights defenders willing to be present.
People’s Watch also calls upon the members of the Dalit community to refrain from resorting to any retaliatory violence for the sake of peace and tranquillity in the state and calls upon the relevant District Collectors to ensure that quality medical treatment is provided to the injured in the Government hospital or to undertake a transfer of these patients at Government’s cost to private hospitals.
Human Rights organisations are also urged to undertake urgent appeals based on the interim findings by People’s Watch to ensure that pressure is built on the Government of Tamil Nadu to take action.
IDSN strongly condemns these actions and will update this news with an urgent appeal as soon as one has been launched.
Note: The Hindustan Times has reported that the BJP President has put together a fact finding team to look into the incident that will visit Tamil Nadu from September 15 to September 17 and will submit a report to the party president as soon as possible thereafter.
(14 December 2011 Update – Read the final fact finding report )