Struggle against POTA continues
The following RYL - POTA Prisoners were on hunger strike from 26.08.04, on wards in Central Prison, Chennai.
Four other Prisoners namely,
were also on hunger strike from 2.09.04.
The Women Prisoners namely,
Reeta Mary and
Reena Joice Mary
were also undergoing hunger strike from 28.08.04 in Special Prison for Women, Vellore.
Their main demands are;
1. To appeal POTA 2002 retrospectively
2. To withdraw all the cases registered under POTA
The health condition of the above prisoners detoriatated. Neither the Central Government nor State Government authorities cared to meet and talk to them.
In the meanwhile, Civil Liberties origanisations all over India took note of their struggle and appealed to them to withdraw their hunger strike. Justice Rajinder Sachar former President of PUCL and others met the Home Minister of India on 10.9.04 and requested him to intervene.
The Civil Liberties activists in Tamilnadu decided to meet the Prisoners and convey them the appeal made by Civil Rights Organisations from all over India. Justice Rajinder Sachar has kindly consented to lead the following team:
1) Sudha Ramalingam (PUCL)
2) A.Marx (PUHR)
3) G.Sugumaran (Makkal Urimai Koottamaippu)
4) Ilamparithi (Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties, Tamilnadu)
5) Niraimathi (President, PUCL)
6) R.Sankarasubbu, Advocate
7) S.Vijayakumar, Advocate
8) D.Hariparanthaman, Advocate
9) A.Rahul (General Secretary, Indian Association of People`s Lawyers)
10) G.Haribabu (State Coordinator Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties, Tamil Nadu)
Based on the order High Court, Madras dated 13.08.04 passed in HCP NO.991/2004, the above team met the Prisoners in Central Prison, Chennai. First we met the 11 Prisoners who were on hunger strike today at 11. A.M. Their health condition was very bad and we requested them to withdraw the hunger strike. We also assured them that we will continue their just struggle from outside.
After much persuasion, the 11 Prisoners agreed to withdraw their hunger strike and they decided to continue their struggle along with us.
Similarly a team consisting of S.Sengodi, Balu and Paul Sathiyaseelan, Advocates have left for Vellore Special Prison for Women for the purpose of conveying the message.
The prisoners are insisting POTA to be repealed with retrospective effect. Their demand is justified in the context that even after long period of incarceration, the trial has not commenced and their bail applications have been rejected in total disregard to the Judgement of the Supreme Court in PUCL case. The organisation to which they belonged was not a banned organisation. And Tamilnadu was declared disturbed area under POTA (on 23rd December 2002) long after their arrest which took place on 24th November 2002.
Jayalalitha Government`s intransigent attitude not a surprise but only a continuation of the response she showed towards any democratic voice through out the period of her tenure till now, whether it is the shifting posture in the POTA cases on Vaiko, Nakkeeran Gopal etc., in the implementation of TESMA, mass dismissal of Government Employees; defamation cases against THE HINDU and other News Papers and so on.
The erstwhile supporters of NDA in Tamilnadu who are now the partners in the UPA had reverted to the stand of opposing the POTA.
The experiences with the lapse of "Acts" like TADA have shown that even after the lapse of such acts no remedy is available to the victims of such acts and they have to endure the ordeal of facing the cases long after the lapse of these laws. And the laws like TADA and POTA were primarily used targeting the Political activists and opponents who hold different view points and opinions. The UPA Government which rode to electoral victory on the manifesto of repealing acts like POTA, has not carried out the promise of election manifesto. We demand that POTA should be repealed with retrospective effect and all the cases registered under POTA should be withdrawn.
In this context we belonging to the Civil Liberties Organisations stand in solidarity with the Prisoners on Fast to insist upon the Centre to act firmly without any hesitation to repeal POTA with retrospective effect and release all those arrested under POTA thus avoiding the similar ordeal one faced long after the lapse of TADA. The team condemns the intransigent attitude and delay tactics adopted in handling the prisoners case. We also insist that the Act should be repealed without any discriminatory provisions based on the status of the victims.
The team also condemns the Government of Tamilnadu for invoking with haste the Unlawful Activities Act to subvert the repeal of the "Acts" like POTA. It is to be regretted that while all other Governments are talking to all groups of all shades and opinions, The Tamilnadu Government`s haste to bring in Unlawful Activities Act to ban CPI (ML) (People`s War) the organisation in Tamilnadu exposes its intransigent attitude to any voices of people and democratic concerns.
1) JUSTICE RAJINDER SACHAR
2) Sudha Ramalingam (PUCL)
3) A.Marx (PUHR)
4) G.Sugumaran (Makkal Urimai Koottamaippu)
5) Ilamparithi (Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties, Tamilnadu)
6) Niraimathi (President, PUCL)
7) R.Sankarasubbu, Advocate
8) S.Vijayakumar, Advocate
9) D.Hariparanthaman, Advocate
10) A.Rahul (General Secretary, Indian Association of People`s Lawyers)
11) G.Haribabu (State Coordinator Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties, Tamil Nadu)
12) Kranthi Chaitanya, (Joint Secretary, Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee).