People's Democracy

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


No. 49

December 04, 2011




Policemen Assault Tribal Women


S P Rajendran


THE Tamilnadu Tribal People’s Association has demanded a CBCID enquiry into a serious case of sexual assault and stringent action against the police personnel who were guilty of raping four tribal women in T Mandapam village under Thirukovilur police station of Villupuram district.


Through a statement, association president P Shanmugam condemned the police personnel and charged that the affected women were taken by the police in connection with a theft case against their relative called Kasi. They belonged to the Irula tribe.


When Valli, the mother of Kasi, visited the police station on November 22 to request his release, the police told her to bring some close relatives for further inquiry. On her way home, she was picked by some policemen in a van, which was also carrying Kasi’s wife Lakshmi (20), his brother's wife Karthika (18), his sister Radhika (17), and Vaigeshwari (20), a relative. “They were taken to a forest area and subjected to sexual assault.”


Though the incident occurred on November22, it came to notice only on November 26, as the women and the tribal community, threatened by the police, did not talk about the atrocity.


With the help of other people, Lakshmi, one of the victims, later filed a complaint with M Bhaskaran, the superintendent of police in Villupuram district, on Saturday, November 26, narrating the incident in which she and three other women were illegally confined and sexually abused by four policemen attached to the Thirukovilur police station on November 22.


After receiving the complaint from the women, the SP began a foul play in order to protect the accused policemen. His office too confined the women from 11 a m on November 26 to 8.30 a m on November 27, and forced them to sign a written statement to the effect that no such incident had taken place.


Meanwhile, CPI(M) and AIDWA leaders in Villupuram district lodged vigorous protest against the illegal confinement of the women in night and the SP’s illegal action. It was only after a series of interventions and a complaint made to the district collector by R Ramamurthy, CPI(M) MLA from Vikkirawandi, and CPI(M) district secretary G Anandan, that the tribal women were sent back to their village.


Then cases invoking Sections 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 427 (causing damage to currency notes), 363 (kidnapping) and 376 (rape), read with Section 3 (1) (12) of the Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, were registered against “certain unidentified policemen.”


Following it, a magisterial inquiry began into the sexual assault charge. Tirukovilur judicial magistrate, K Muralidhara Kannan, went to the tribal habitation at T Mandapam on November 27 to contact the four affected women as a part of his enquiry.


The magistrate continued the probe next day also. Earlier an enquiry into a sexual assault case was conducted either by a revenue divisional officer or by a deputy collector or a sub-collector. Now the rules have changed and magistrates are deputed to probe such incidents.


Recalling the whole episode before the JM, the victims went on to record that the police had forced them to give a written statement that no such incident had taken place. They were also told that if they agreed to be subjected to a medical test, it would not only bring disrepute to them but would also affect their families. It was thus that the police made the women retract their complaint under duress, on the promise of getting those jobs and releasing their kin.


In this background, P Shanmugam, president of Tamilnadu Tribal People’s Association, insisted for a CBCID enquiry in this issue. In a letter to the chief minister, he charged that the Villupuram district police was trying to save the accused, and demanded that the enquiry be handed over to the CBCID. The AIDWA state committee too has vehemently condemned the police arrogance.


Later, on November 29, the chief minister of Tamilnadu, who also holds the home portfolio too, ordered suspension of Inspector Srinivasan, special sub-inspector Ramanathan and policemen Dhanasekar, Karthikeyan and Bakthavatchalam of Thirukovilur police station. She also announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for each of the victims.