Nedumaran accuses STF of atrocities in Kerala
D Jose in Trivandrum
Human rights activists have accused the Special Task Force appointed by the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments to nab the brigand Veerappan of committing atrocities on tribals in the Attappadi area of Palghat district of Kerala.
The Confederation of Human Rights Organisations in Kerala has decided to send a fact-finding team to Attappadi to probe the incidents that are said to have occurred during the STF's operation in the northern district last week.
CHRO secretary general Mukundan C Menon and Tamizh Desiya Iyakkam (Tamil National Movement) president Pazha Nedumaran told reporters in Trivandrum on Thursday that human rights activists from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka would join the team.
They said the atrocities, including molestation of tribal women, were part of the tyranny unleashed by the STF against ordinary masses living in the forests in their previous operations as well.
"More than 90 persons were arrested and shot dead, around 60 tribal women were raped or molested and more than 300 persons were illegally detained and tortured by the STF for months together. We will not allow history to be repeated," they thundered.
They appealed to democratic-minded sections within society to raise their collective voice against the atrocities.
Nedumaran said no state should allow the STF to carry out operations in its territory without first convincing the government about Veerappan's presence.
He alleged that STF personnel from Karnataka had entered Tamil Nadu and Kerala without informing the respective state governments and were committing atrocities.
He called for transparency in the STF's operations. Media should be allowed access to the areas where they are carrying out operations, he said.
Menon and Nedumaran also urged both Tamil Nadu and Karnataka to consider the possibility of giving Veerappan a chance to eschew crime and lead a peaceful life, as was done by dacoits in the Chambal some years ago.
The Kerala government too has received complaints of atrocities on tribals and promised to inquire into it. The local police, who were deputed to assist the STF, have also reportedly complained of ill treatment by STF members.
Many in Kerala expressed doubts about reports of Veerappan crossing the border and taking refuge in the state's forests since these parts are inhabited by wild animals. Interestingly, the weeklong search by the STF with the help of the Kerala police failed to yield anything.