People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 38

September 20, 2009

                Police Detain CPI(M) Leaders From Visiting  Uthapuram


UTHAPURAM a tiny village in Usilampatti area near Madurai, had drawn the attention of the media in the entire country when the Communist Party of India (Marxist) took up the issue of a wall of caste oppression erected there preventing the dalits from accessing common village amenities situated in the midst of caste Hindu households. When as part of this struggle, Prakash Karat planned a visit to that village, the state administration swiftly moved to demolish a part of that wall.


CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and MP, Brinda Karat, was in Madurai attending various events in the southern districts. She made it a point to visit Uthapuram to meet the dalits of that village and express solidarity with them.


Uthapuram village also was preparing to give Brinda a rousing reception and the dalit residents there had also obtained police permission for installing a mike and amplifier on September 12, the day the visit was scheduled. But, the police and Madurai district authorities had other plans. On September 11, when Brinda, after addressing the mass meeting to celebrate EMS centenary, returned to the circuit house where she had checked in, the police informed her that the license to use the mike system for the reception meeting in Uthapuram the next morning had been cancelled. They asked Brinda not to undertake the visit to Uthapuram. She  politely informed the police that there were no prohibitory orders in force in Uthapuram and that she would visit the village to have her breakfast in the residence of Ponniah, a dalit in Uthapuram.


The next morning Brinda accompanied by the CPI(M) Madurai Rural district secretary and the state leaders of the AIDWA left the Circuit House in Madurai, and immediately the superintendent of police M Manohar, along with the striking force, joined it on the way.


A team of police led by Tirumangalam deputy superintendent of police, M Vijayaregunathan intercepted the vehicles on the Tirupparankundram highway.


The police told Brinda Karat that she was not permitted to go to Uthapuram following a law and order problem. After a protest staged by the comrades who accompanied her, the police said that Brinda, along with the others, was being arrested.  They were taken in a police van to the Tirupparankundram police station at around 7.30 am and detained them for nearly two hours.


The police had filed a first information report charging them under Sections 147, 148, 341, 188 of IPC and Section 30 (2) of the Police Act. But later, the deputy inspector-general of police K Balasubramanian claimed that she was not arrested. The CPI(M) leader, however, maintained that the police had registered a case against her and ten others, including state general secretary of the All India Democratic Women�s Association, U Vasuki. Vasuki said that the cases were registered under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including unlawful assembly. The DIG said the detention was preventive in nature. After the police denied permission for the meeting, Brinda said she would make a private visit to the residence of Ponniah, a dalit in Uthapuram. After protracted discussions, the CPI (M) members clarified that it was a private visit and Brinda would not address any public meeting they were allowed to proceed with police security after.


At Uthapuram the entire dalit families were on the streets to accord a rousing reception to Brinda Karat. In her informal interaction with the dalits of the village, Brinda  Karat said that CPI(M) would continue to support their cause and fight for their rights and get due compensation for the victims of discrimination.


Later, she told reporters that even after an hour�s detention, the police were unable to tell her the sections under which she had been arrested and the reasons for it. �The police would have let me go to Uthapuram if I were to visit the criminals over there. Since I was going to visit the victims of untouchability, I was denied permission.�


Charging the state government with preventing her from going to Uthapuram, she said the government was not taking enough measures to end the decades old discrimination resulting in segregating dalits and others in the village. �Instead of upholding the law, it wants to suppress the issue of civil rights. It has gone to the absurd extent of detaining us instead of those who were creating the law and order problem,� she said.


The state secretary of the CPI(M), N Varadarajan, in a statement issued from Chennai condemned the state government�s move to prevent Brinda Karat from visiting Uthapuram and detaining her for nearly two hours. The general secretary of AIDWA, Sudha Sundararaman, also issued a statement in New Delhi, condemning the Tamilnadu government for attempting to prevent Brinda Karat, an elected representative of the people in parliament from expressing solidarity with the dalits in a remote village near Madurai.