Saturday, February 28, 2009

Translation from the Ananda Vikatan- clearly some sections of the media are still committed to truth and democracy


(Translation of a report in the Ananda Vikadan, a leading Tamil Weekly in its edition dated 04.03.2009)

The Police has wiped the egg stain on the face of Subramania Swami with the blood of the Advocates.

In the History of India, there has never been an occasion where the High Court of a State became a battlefield. The brutal attacks that took place in the full view of the media and the Public can never be forgotten in a lifetime.

The only factions continuously holding protests on behalf of the Srilankan Tamils were the Students and the Advocates. The Government suppressed the rising of the Student community by closing down the colleges. The protests by the Advocates were a continuing story. When the advocates were boycotting the Courts, Subramania Swami came to the Court for the Chidambaram Natarajar case. It is said that in the altercation that followed, the Swami faction abused the advocates as ‘dogs that have come through reservation.’ What followed was pelting of eggs at Subramania Swami. Cases were filed against more than twenty Advocates for the egg-pelting incident.

The following day, the Court was unusually filled with Khaki uniforms. Sensing that ‘something was wrong’, the Advocates debated amongst themselves and said that they were willing to surrender in the egg-pelting case if Subramania Swami was arrested for abusing them on caste lines. This ignited the melee that followed.

The arguments continued, the advocates were arrested and riots erupted. Hundreds of Policemen led by 3 Commissioners, 2 Joint Commissioners, 3 Additional Commissioners and over 10 Commissioners were on one side and a seething mass of advocates were on the other side. The stones, which had been dumped for laying a road suddenly, became weapons for both sides. The Police had protection in the form of the cane shields carried by them. However, the stones pelted by the police did their duty by injuring the advocates. ‘If you stand on our side, you will be safe. If you stand on their side, we cannot guarantee your safety!’ – was the consideration shown by the Police to the media even at that time!

That is precisely why the media could only take the visuals from angle of the Policemen. The riots did not stop even after tear gas was employed. The Commissioner ordered lathi charge. As if on cue, the Police entered the field and went on a rampage against the advocates who got caught in the melee. While the younger advocates ran and hid in the various corners of the High Court, it was the aged Advocates who spilt a lot of blood to the Police lathi. It was extremely distressing to see them cry out aloud in their advanced age. The advocates, who were bleeding, pleaded with the Police with folded hands but they were again beaten up by the Police to their heart’s content and led into the ambulance. The Judges who came to speak to the Police at that time were also driven away.

The police lathi did not spare even Justice Arumuga Perumal Adithyan. Unable to bear the pain, he got into the ambulance with tears. The Police, which was on a rampage, hit everything in sight, including the cars and bikes.

After the first round, the Policemen, who assembled before the campus Police station, withdrew for some reason and went near the fire station. The advocates, who were hiding in the Court buildings and watching the same, immediately started shouting slogans and started to attack the campus Police station. The motorcycles and later the Police station, started to burn. Immediately after, the Police sent a fire truck. When the stones started to fall on the truck also, a second round of lathi charge was ordered.

The Police broke all the cars as if to satiate a fury suppressed for generations. The photographers and videographers, who tried to film the same, were threatened. The second round was lathi charge was even more brutal. The advocates who screamed in agony with folded hands and even women advocates were brutally assaulted. The attacks extended even into the Courtrooms where the Courts were in session. Cameraman Jothimani, belonging to a private channel and filming the advocates being assaulted, was hit on the head and his skull was broken.

‘I filmed the Police assaulting Justice Arumuga Perumal Adithyan. Immediately, the Police tried to snatch my camera. When I resisted, they thrashed me’, cries Jothimani, who is admitted in the hospital.

After everything was over, in his interview to the media, Commissioner Radhakrishnan said, ‘Lathi charge was ordered only because the Police station had been set on fire. A lot of Policemen, including Assistant Commissioner Sarangan have been injured.’ At that time, Sarangan was standing right next to him.

Even as the investigation of the incident has been handed over to the CBI, some questions arise in the minds of those of us who saw the incident from inside and outside the Court campus.

1. Why did Subramania Swami come to the Court when there was a Court boycott? Was it the last day for filing the appeal in the Chidambaram Temple case? Even assuming that he had come to Court without any knowledge of the same, the action of the advocates cannot be called as a protest. They could have shown their protests in a peaceful manner outside the Court. The pelting of eggs was the first spark.

2. The Swami incident took place in front of two Judges, who have directed that action should be taken against the advocates involved. Therefore, if the advocates named in the FIR had been asked to surrender through the Bar Council or the Registrar of the High Court, there would not have been any problem. Could not the Police, which is capable of arresting 20,000 people overnight all over Tamilnadu in the name of preventive detention, arrest 20 persons at their residence in one night? Piling up of Hundreds of Police personnel in the court campus appears to be a planned action!

3. The people who pelted eggs at Swami were only advocates and not Hyundai or Yamaha companies. If the Police could not arrest the advocates, why did they have to damage cars and bikes. Isn’t that the work of area dadas? Why did the Police enter the Family Court and Assistant (City Civil) Court buildings and assault the court staff, knowing fully well that they were not advocates? If people were attacked in spite of stating that they were judges or belonging to the media, was there a plan on the part of the Police to entirely destroy the High Court on that day?

4. Like the Speaker being the Supreme authority in the assembly, the Chief Justice is the Supreme Authority in the Court. It does not appear as though the Police had taken written permission from the Chief Justice or the High Court Registrar. The Court administration Wing has also confirmed that the Police were not given the permission to enter the campus and arrest. Moreover, why did the Policemen go to Thambu Chetty street filled with Advocate offices and swirl their lathis there?

5. Does the fact that the advocates set fire to the police station after all this had happened show that they lacked restraint and moral principles?

6. It should publicly disclosed as to how the Police procured the permission from the Home Department and the Chief Minister for the campus entry and lathi charge? If they had informed the Government that the advocates had become a faction that ‘could not be controlled’, why is the Government covering up the same? Why did not the Law minister and the advocates belonging to the DMK party resolve the issue between the two parties?

7. Why was not there an open debate in the assembly about the incident and why was it stealthily condemned to Section 110? The practice of reading reports as against having open debates prevailed during the Jayalalitha remie. If Karunanithi is also going to do the same thing, in what way is he different, particularly when the Speaker as well as the Law Minister are advocates?

8. Why is Karunanithi reluctant to speak about the pros and cons of the atrocities and cover up the entire episode with the statement, ‘ the past should remain in the past?’

This is the charge sheet in the mind of the common man. The conscience of the people concerned knows who is the real culprit!

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