(Committee constituting Educationists and Human rights activists)
(for contacts: 9444120582, 9444214175,9443439869)
The incidence took place on the 12th of this month shook the people of Tamilnadu as a whole. It ought to be taken cognizance of that these incidents have taken place purely based on casteist lines. The repeated display of the clippings in the electronic media and the print media expressed that in the whole caste clash that took place one particular community students beat down other community students violently. On the overview even if it appeared to be entirely true, this was only part of the whole truth. The problem is deep rooted. Without understanding the caste groups and the casteist feelings that prevail in the law college campus one cannot understand truth in its entirity.
With reference to this, the law college students, staff and the social activists drew our attention to this issue. To collect the complete facts regarding the issue a committee consisting of the educationists and the human rights activists was formed. The team was constituted with the following members:
1) Professor A. Marx (Peoples Union of Human Rights)
2) Advocate Rajini (Peoples Union of Human Rights)
3) Thai. Kandasamy (Peoples Union of Human Rights)
4) Advocate K.Kesavan ( Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties)
5) Advocate Sujatha ( Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties)
6) Advocate Manoharan( International Association of Peoples Lawyers)
7) Professor Sivakumar( Rtd. Principal, L.N. Govt.Arts College, Gudiyattam)
8) Professor Santhosam
9) Professor Lenin(Loyola College)
10) Jerome Samraj( Student, Ayothidasar Reasearch centre)
11) R. Revathy( Women’s meet)
12) Advocate Raghavan.
On 18th and 19th the team met Bharathi Kannan, s/o Karuppaiah Thevar ( IV year), Devakottai, Ayyadurai, s/o Mariappa Thevar (II year), Sankaran Koil, Arumugam, s/o Kamaraj, Thirubvammamalai(III year) who are all undergoing treatment at govt. medical Hospital, Chennai and Chitraiselvan, s/o Kuppusamy, Pattukottai(IV year) who is being treated at Royapettah Govt. Medical Hospital and Dalit Students Premkumar, Ilayaraja, Asok, Gokul Raj, kanagaraj, Gopala Krishnan, Siva. Kathiravan, P. Govindan, V. Govindan, who are incarcerated at Puzhal prison and the newly appointed Principal for the Ambedkar law college Mohammaed Iqbal, the professors who were direct witness to the incidence of violence at the law college, Rtd. Scientist Gopal and Advocate Rajinikanth who happened to be present there when the incident took place. The team also met the Asst. Commissioner Balachandran and spoke to him. It also met Inspector Jayakodi over phone. The team also met the parents of the victims.
There have been frequent clashes amongst students of the Chennai Ambedkar law college in the past few years. In addition to the direct caste clash there have also been clashes between the hostellers and non-hostellers. The majority of those staying in the hostels belong to SC (149 persons) and BCs (7 persons) community. Caste plays a primary role in all these clashes. For example, the clash between the hostellers and others has to be seen as caste clash only.
In this circumstance, in the past few years there was a caste based organization formed within the law college premises. So far there used to be only organizations belonging to political parties and not caste based organisations amongst the students. The ornaisation named ‘Mukkulathor Manavar Peravai’ was run with the support from outside from the Thevar Peravai. This organization used to celebrate the birthday of Muthuramalinga thevar, October 30th as ‘Thevar Jayanthi’. On this occasion posters and notices with slogans whipping up the communal feelings used to be printed and these consciously omitted the name of ‘Dr. Ambedkar’ in their printing while denoting the college name. The college name used to be shown as Chennai Law College Instead Of Dr. Ambedkar Chennai Law College as such. The college authorities never bothered about this deletion. This evoked anger and sober amongst the Dalit students. In every celebrations in the college there used to be a practice of garlanding Dr. Ambedkar’s statue. But during Thevar Jayan when the students come on procession they wantonly neglect this practice.
In the meantime when the seniors were ragging in the sense of making witting statements etc. last year with the juniors, there was a peculiar incident that took place. One Vijay Pradeep warned the seniors ‘not to play with him unnecessarily without knowing his background. He claimed that his uncle is the accused RAmar of the famous Melavalavu Murugesan Murder. On this both sides got enraged. Vijay Pradeep became the prime person in organizing the students based on caste. He was a prime person behind the violence that took place on 12th and the same was confirmed by the staff who witnessed the violence on 12th.
This year as well during the Thevar Jayanthi celebrations on 30th October posters were displayed all around. While denoting the name of the college Dr. Ambedkar’s name had been omitted while the posters had been printed. Students belonging to Mukkulathor Students federation claim that few dalit students, enraged by this, had torn off one or two posters. Dalit students deny the charges. Whatever be the case, there was a scuffle that ensued on that day between these two groups. Subsequently other students have threatened the dalit students warning them ‘you will be beaten up if you came for the exams. We will break your legs’.
One has to understand the following facts. Dalit students would primarily mean those dalit students staying in the hostel. Since they all stay in the same complex together there is a good coherence of understanding between them. They debate, discuss and share everything together. Hence, even in the caste clash that took place they became the targets. The students who have been victim and admitted in the hospital and who took up this issue, Shri Chitraiselvan and the other two students who have been beaten up and admitted in the hospital Shri Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam had previous enmity. Based on a complaint filed by Chitraiselvan two years back, there is a PCR case pending on Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam over an attack on him. Bharathikannan has obtained an anticipatory bail on this. Arumugam told this committee that there is a case pending on him. This year of the total 11 cases filed on the law college students, Bharathikannan is involved in 3 cases as per the Inspector of Police Shri Jayakodi. He affirmed this to our committee.
On November 5th, when the exams started, fearing assault, few hostel (dalit) students did not come to write the exam. Some who braved the situation were threatened by Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam who are in the hospital beaten up in the clash. On 7th November, four dalit students named Meganathan, Sivaraj, Raja and Ezhumalai were beaten up at the Bus Stand. It is learnt that in addition to Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam, Shri Ayyadurai, Vijay Pradeep, Thirulogeswaran, Sukumaran were involved in this assault on the dalit students. Dalit students seem to have discussed this matter in the hostel. They decided not to go in for police complaint during the exam time. They also decided to give protection to the dalit students who went for the exams.
Everyday Bharathi Kannan was prowling with daggers and knives. This was confirmed to the committee by the staff and professors of the law college. It is also to be noted that Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam did not have exams this time. There were instances of intervention to save the situation by some staff and professors of the Law College there, when the students were being threatened and driven away. In this situation only the exam was continuing on 12th of November.
November 12th incident:
When Bharathi Kannan and his group threatened the students who came for writing the exams, professors and Principal Sridev had gone and driven them away. In the meantime dalit students staying in the hostel knew of the situation and more than 40 of them came along with logs etc to the college. That they did not possess any lethal weapons with them was confirmed to the team by the professors.
In the meantime college authorities have closed the entrance of the college. The students came from hostels entered forcibly the college campus by pushing open the college gate. When the professors and principals intervened they answered that they had come only to defend for the students who came there for writing the exams and they had no intention to attack anybody.
Perturbed by this, the college authorities approached the support from the police authorities. College principal also had submitted a written request to the Esplanade police station. He even went in person and gave the complaint when the situation was becoming tense. The presently suspended Asstt Commissioner Shri Narayana Moorthy, gave the numbers of Paul Kangaraj, President, Advocated Asociation, Chennai High Court and Armstrong, a BSP leader and asked the principal to contact them to pacify the situation. Principal tried to save the situation by contacting them. And on the principal’s request Advocate Rajanikanth also spoke to the dalit students. Scientist gopal was also present at that time. The students informed them that they had come only for defence. When they had returned back, Gopal saw the two students jumping in to the college campus and sharpening their daggers.
In the meantime Ayyadurai came out after writing the exams. Since he was already involved in thrashing the dalit students he was beaten up. However he did not bring any lethal weapons that day. Since the dalit students felt he did not have the intention to attack they gave him water, pacified him and sent him off. This was confirmed by the Advocate Prakash who had come to drop his daughter safely for the exams. Other teaching staff also confirmed this.
In this context only, Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam came rushing towards the students. Bharathi Kannan rushing towards the students, holding the daggers is recorded in the electronic media. When the team went, it was told that he was in a deleterious state. His parents spoke to the team. Arumugam who spoke to the team accepted that they two had daggers in their possession at that time. He told that since they heard that Ayyadurai was beaten up, they came for his rescue. When Bharathi Kannan rushed towards the dalit students scolding them in harsh (vulgar) language the dalit students ran helter shelter.
The previous enmity between Chitraiselvan and Bharathi Kannan is narrated already in this. Both Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam attacked Citraiselvan. On seeing Chitaiselvan fall with injury on his head and over his body, the dalit students rushed back with logs to attack the two. With the daggers falling off from their hands the two could not resist the attack on them by the dalit students who beat them with the logs. This was shown in the electronic media and everyone is witness to that. The police authorities did no efforts to stop or disperse the crowd. This was also clear from the visual media.
With reference to the Nov. 12th incident three cases have been filed:
1) On 8 dalit students and ‘others’ cases have been framed in the case related with Cr. No. 1371/2008. So far, 23 students have been arrested and put in Puzhal prison and Saidapet sub jail. Chitrai Selvan being treated in the hospital has already been arrested. IPC 147,148, 307(attempt to murder), 506(2) (threat to attack) has been foisted on him.
2) On the complaint filed by Chitrai Selvan, cases have been registered on Bharathi Kannan and Arumugam under Cr. No. 1372/2008. No one is included as ‘others’. The case under IPC 506(2)( threat to attack) has been filed. Nobody has so far been arrested.
3) On Cr. No. 1373/2008, on the complaint filed by the principal 14 students have been arrested.
Government has taken action by suitably transferring some and suspending some others. The principal has been suspended. A commission of enquiry headed by a Rtd. Judge Shri Shanmugam has been constituted by the government.
1) The functioning of the caste based organizations with in the college premises is a cause for concern. The violence that took place on the 12th of November ought to be condemned. But the same cannot be viewed in its isolation. It has to be understood in the background of the past incidents that prevailed.
2) Caste organizations should not be allowed to flourish with in the college campus.That also omitting Dr. Ambedkar’s name while printing independent notices or posters and pasting it near the college should have been taken cognizance of by the college authorities and curbed at the early instance itself. College authorities should have sorted out the issue by adopting the procedures like counseling the students whenever disputes arise amongst students, if necessary call for a tripartite meeting with the parent, teacher and the police authorities and when not complying with the consensus taking appropriate action on the violators.
3) The police authorities take the excuse that the college authorities did not allow them inside the campus. But the college authorities claim that a written request for the intervention was placed with the police. When the team enquired about this to the investigating officer, Inspector Jayakodi he did not have any knowledge of this. But he said he went and took the students who were beaten up, the attitude of the police in watching a cognizable offence taking place before their own eyes as a bystander is highly a cause for concern. There need to be no permission or orders to stop a cognizable offence taking place in public.
4) All the govt. colleges especially the govt. law colleges are just an extension of the village atmosphere. The caste feelings that exist in the village prevail even within the college campus. Not only in Chennai Law College but also in all other law colleges also the situation prevails. Even in Coimbatore Law College the same situation seems to be prevailing. The character of the legal profession is one reason for such a situation in the law college. Specifically in the village the legal profession is attached with the caste allegiance. To register as the lawyer itself is identified with the caste related activity. Political parties do not condemn this attitude. A particular student can continue to remain in a given party as well as his caste organization.
5) Govt. colleges and the govt. law colleges are neglected by the government. The vacancy in teaching staff posts are not filled upon properly. Hence the students are not completely engaged in the classes. When the classes are not taken, the students stay outside assembling with in the campus. This invariably leads to some avoidable disputes. At present there is 55 posts unfilled in the law college, Chennai. At the same time, elite schools run by the government function well with full strength. When this clash took place in the law college it is everyone’s knowledge that the principal was posted only temporarily. The principal in charge cannot take firm action on any situation is very well known.
6) Few years back there was a commission appointed to go into the clashes that took place in the hostel. Its recommendations were submitted to the government. The recommendation to appoint a permanent hostel warden is yet to be fulfilled.
7) To block the students from writing the exams that would affect the future of the students is a serious matter. The college authorities should have taken note of this. The professors could not give proper details on how many students failed to attend the exam due to such a threat.
8) Government and the police authorities are approaching the problem in a reductionist way. They have resorted to indiscriminate arrest of any dalit student. The student named Gokul Raj of Thirupathi Ambedkar Law College who happened to be present in the court at that time has been arrested. The police authorities that chose to relieve him when it knew he was from Tirupathi Law College remanded him once knowing his caste identity as belonging to dalit. The family members of the dalit students have been put under great pressure and trouble. Arrested dalit students have been insulted very badly by the police authorities.
1) Functioning of the caste based organizations with in the college campus should be curbed forth with. There has to be a ban on the functioning, issuance of pamphlets, posters in the name of such organizations within the college campus. College names should be printed only in a recognized form. Any attempt to delete Dr. Ambedkar’s name by any one in denoting the college’s name should be made punishable.
2) Based on this issue there is a demand being raised to remove Dr. Ambedkar’s name in the naming of Law College. This is totally untenable and government should not yield to such a move and rescind any such move.
3) Even in The Coimbatore Law College such an issue prevails. The students coming for the exams have been attacked there. Government and the college authorities should take necessary preventive steps to stop recurrence of violence.
4) The steps government has taken so far is one sided. While Chitraiselvan has been attacked on his head, his ears are torn, it has not so far taken action on IPC 307 on those who attacked him. They have not been arrested yet. No action has been taken so far on the students belonging to the Caste organization that operated from behind. This is highly condemnable. Government must take corrective measures immediately.
5) Stop forth with harassing the family members in the name of search operation to nab the absconding students. All hose innocent students, especially Gokul Raj of the Tirupathi college should be released forthwith.
6) The vacancy in the teaching staff posts should be filed forthwith. The exams that have been stalled due to this violence should be conducted immediately. Those students who could not attend the exams due to threat of attack or fear should be provided fair chance to attend the exam. Permanent counseling committee and peace committee should be constituted. Full fledged hostel warden should be appointed.
7) It should be enquired Why the police authorities failed to take action even when the written complaint was lodged with them by the principal. It is understood that the same police authorities that gave the contact no. of BSP leader Armstrong to pacify the students is planning to arrest him. It would be erratic if this is being done on the insistence of other caste organizations. The government should enquire in to this.
8) In the pattern of ‘House Surgeon’ course adopted for the medical students in their final years, the law students should also be provided with internship course at various legal cells and high court registry in their final years (III year and V year) with stipend.
9) The students lodged in the Saidapet sub jail should be shifted to Puzhal prison immediately.