Police costodial violence and atrocity on dalit youth, women and Union leaders
DALIT ACTIVISTS PROTESTING PANCHAYAT ELECTION RESULTS ILLEGALLY DETAINED, STRIPPED, TORTURED, AND PARADED NAKED IN CHILLAMANUR BY POLICE OF VENKATAGIRI CIRCLE, NELLORE DISTRICT.
Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union is a Trade Union Federation of 325 Mandals spread over in 16 districts of Andhra Pradesh. It non-party, Registered Agriculture Workers Union working for the Rights of Agriculture workers, small & marginal farmers for the last one and half decade.
As an organization believing the Principles of Democracy we have been trying to made use of all favorable legal spaces that are available for the development of the down trodden. We feel Panchayat Raj Act is the one, which has given space far the rural Masses to taste the fruits of gross route Democracy. Therefore, we have taken it, as a tool to establish people's democracy is the Panchayats. As part of it we have conducted series of training programme on Panchayat Raj Act for all those believes the principles of democracy with clean politics. As a result throughout the state it is decided to take up voters awareness and also encourage the poor to participate in the recent Panchayat elections. Nellore District is one among 16 Districts having its base in 30mandals encourages many poor people to participate in elections both by contesting and also to vote for Panchayat presidents and ward members.
Mr. P.Subramanyam the honorary President of Balayapalli Mandal Agriculture Workers Union is one among many contested in recent panchayat elections. He has contested the Panchayat election on 20.8.01 at his native village Chillamanur of Balayyapalli Mandal for post of panchayat President lost to his rival by 3 votes on the first count. He and his supporters demand a recount, as there was a difference between the total votes polled and the votes counted by a number of 5. The polling officer refused and declined to give in writing declaring his rival as having won. Subramanyam and his supporters staged a sit-in (dharna) in front of the polling booth. Soon after some 150 odd members of the rival group rushed in to the polling booth followed by the protesting group. In the meantime that ensued the polled and unrolled ballot papers were torn to pieces. It is not clear who has committed this. The pollilng officer complained against the protesting defeated party. Around 6pm that evening, about 40 policemen led by C.I. of Venkatagiri Circle, Rajinikanth Reddy and S.I. of Balaiahpalli Police Station, Sreenivasachari arrested 7 women and 4 men including the candidate belonging to the defeated party as identified by Mr. Chenga Reddy the Village Accounts Officer (VAO), who was supporting the winning candidate.
Torture & Humiliation:
The arrested persons were abused in filthy language, beaten with lathis and lodged in the Venkatagiri police station. They included Subhashini W/o Bhaskar who was suckling her child, dragging her away leaving the baby. They were all subject to another round of beating at the police station. The police also picked up activists of the union, Sahadevaiah, mandal union secretary, M.Ravi, T.Sivaiah (both of whom contested as ward members), and T.Venkataiah from Venkatagiri around mid-night the same day (20-8-01) and put them I the lock up. The arrested men were forced to strip off their clothes and left in only their underwears.
That night, around 1.00 AM Subramanyam, Ravi, Sivaiah and B.Venkataiah, had their legs tied together with a lathi in between. They were made to lie on the floor face down with their feet raised on to a bench and one policeman standing on their hands with his boots on. They were whipped with lathis on the soles of their feet; a lathi was put across the mouth. This kind of beating went on for about three hours and then they were thrown in the lock up.
Around 8.00 AM on 21-8-01, the C.I., Rajinikantha Reddy sat on chair and called out to the police constables to bring out the sons of bitches from the lockup. This time Sahadeva, Ravi, Sivaiah, and Subramanyam (sarpench candidate) were all once more given the same treatment with the S.I. standing on the palms of the victims? When any one painted some water was thrown on his face. This went on for about four hours. Around noon Sahadevaiah, Ravi, Sivaiah and Venkataiah were made to get in to a jeep in their underwear's. The Venkatagiri C.I. Rajinikantha Reddy and S.I. of Balaiahpalli police station, Srinivasachari and 8 police constables accompanied them. They were taken to Chilamanur village. They were handcuffed in two pairs and paraded in the streets with police beating them with lathis and dragging them by hair when they fell on the ground and kicking them with boots. The police called cut to each house and asked the people to witness the show "why do you mala, madiga sons of bitches want (to enter) politics why don't you listen to the elders?" The C.I. would repeatedly admonish them, abusing them in filthy language. The scene was repeated in the next village of Gollagunta, which also formed a part of Chillamanur Panchayat.
Dodging the Court and threatening the victims: The Missing three.
On the morning of 23rd August i.e. 66 hours after their arrest all those arrested, except Sahadevaiah, Sivaiah, and Ravi were produced before the magistrate and remanded to judicial custody. (They were later released on bail). These three were taken in a private car (ambassador) to Chittanoor police station (to escape Habeas Corpus petition filed on behalf of the accused). Telegrams were sent to the Chief Minister, Home Minister, Chief justice, A.P. High Court, the Director General of Police, The District Collector and the Superintendent of Police, all to no effect. The Chief Justice of A.P. High Court happened to be visiting Nell ore for a public meeting on "Empowerment and Justice of Women" on 25.8.01. Victoria W/o Sahadevaiah gave a petition to the Chief Justice and fell at his feet in an emotional outburst and pleaded with him to save the life of her husband. The very next day Sahadevaiah and Sivaiah were brought to Balaiahpalli Police Station and produced before the magistrate on 27th morning at Venkatagiri. They were warned not to say anything about the torture or parading nude in the streets of the Chillamanur and Gollagunta villages as otherwise they will be hauled up in several more (false) cases and tortured further. While Sivaiah kept mum Sahadevaiah picked up courage to reveal all to the magistrate showing his bruises. The judge ordered him to be admitted to the hospital. (But no action against the police). Sahadevaiah was in hospital for 3 days undergoing treatment. Thereafter he was produced before the Magistrate on 3rd September 01. He was then remanded to judicial custody till 6th September and released on bail on 6th evening from Gudur Sub jail.
Since Sahadevaiah had spilled the beans about the torture, the police hid Ravi and changed the place of hiding for several days, waiting for the bruises to heal. He was shifted to the oil mill of Chenchaiah near the forests on 27th and that night was shifted to the residence of a Police Constable Rafi of Venkatagiri Police Station. The next day he was shifted to the residence of police Constable Ravi Raju of Balaiahpalli Police Station and kept there for four days (till 31.08.01). That very night he was taken to Venkatagiri Police station. On the morning of 1.9.01 his wife was called to the police station and told her that she could take her husband away and no case would be filed against him. She refused to do so. Later they warned Ravi that if he revealed anything to the magistrate he would be finished off in an "Encounter" (like the naxalities) and abused him in the name of his caste. So when Ravi was produced before the magistrate on 3rd September, he did not reveal anything and was remanded to judicial custody. He was subsequently released on bail. He had been detained in police custody for 12 days.
The need for justice:
The incidents reported by the accused/victims and given in writing are shocking to say the least.even if the arrested were guilty of mis-behaviour with the polling officer and tearing up the ballot papers and other materials at the polling station on 20.08.01 is this how accused/suspected in a crime are to be treated?
The police in the above case are prima facie guilty of the following:
1.. Detaining the accused for more than 24 hours in their custody
2.. Beating and abusing the, including women, in the name of caste as well.
3.. Behaving inhumanly in forcibly taking away two mothers suckling babies and keeping them under detention for over 65 days, away from their babies.
4.. Torturing the male members among the arrested
5.. Humiliating the leaders and all male accused by putting them in the lock up stripped to their underwear.
6.. Further humiliation and affront to human dignity by parading them in their underwear, handcuffed, beating and kicking them through the streets of Chillamanur and Gollagunta villages.
7.. Threatening the accused not to reveal the acts of torture and humiliation.
8.. Hiding the accused at different places to evade detection by the Court.
9.. False filling of F.I.R. (those arrested were detained at Venkatagiri Police Station while F.I.R. was filed by Balaiahpalli Police Station)
Their entire behaviour makes a big joke of the detailed instructions given by the Supreme Court on how accused suspects are to be treated in police stations from the time of arrest till remanded to judicial custody. (Judgment in W.P.No539/1986, D.K.Babu Vs State of West Bengal, delivered on 18.12.1996).