Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tamil RTI Activist’s Murder in PDS Scam

Murugan, belonging to Devendrar, Scheduled Caste community, hailing from Thoothukudi District of Tamilnadu, died on 7 September under mysterious circumstances. Murugan was working as Assistant Quality Control Inspector in the State Civil Supplies Corporation, Thoothukudi. While on duty, he had noticed some pilferages and illegal smuggling of the stored food items of the Government storehouse which are for distribution under the PDS. Suspecting foul play by some colleagues and higher officials, he raised the issue with Divisional Manager, Civil Supplies Corporation through a written complaint.

As the Divisional Manager tried to pacify him and urged him to turn a blind eye, Murugan made a written complaint to Police in the Thoothukudi Sipcot Police Station. When the police made enquiries, the Divisional Manager has used his clout and threatened Murugan over telephone to withdraw the complaint. Deterred with this act of the superior officer, Murugan chose to wait and watch for some more time. However, he briefed his wife Selvi about these happenings and said that he feared for his life.

Murugan went to office on the morning of 7 September as usual. At around 3.30 pm, Selvi received a call informing her that her husband was admitted to Government General Hospital, Thoothukudi. Upon rushing to the hospital, she was told by hospital authorities that Murugan had consumed poison. She saw her husband in the hospital, dressed only in his trousers, with blood clots, contusions and bruises on his body. She could not find who had admitted him to hospital, and no one from his office was present. The hospital authorities said that Murugan was brought in a load auto, and that they were informed that he had consumed poison.

Selvi doubted this story, as there was no compelling reason and everything was normal at home. She believed that his office colleagues against whom Murugan had complained, had, with the connivance of higher officials beaten him and force-fed poison to divert police attention. Thus she lodged a complaint with the
district Superintendent of Police, Thoothukudi.

The police did not act on her complaint. Ignoring her complaint, the police filed a suicide case against her husband. Murugan died in hospital on 11 September.

The next day, the post mortem was conducted without proper enquiry and also without the signature of his wife or any of his relatives. Therefore Selvi and her relatives refused to accept the body, and she embarked on a fast-unto- death on 13 September in front of the district Collector's office, demanding arrest of the suspected culprits and rendering of proper justice. As the district administration did not act, political parties like the CPI, CPM, CPI(ML), BSP, Puthiya Tamilagam, DPI, Periyar Diravidar kazakam, Athi Tamilar peravai and Naam Tamilar kadsi took up the issue, participated in the fasting and also took processions in Thoothukudi demanding taking stern action against Divisonal Manager Mr Chidambaram, and others including Mr Ayya Pillai, Mr Isaac and Mr Ramesh from the department, who they alleged had perpetrated this heinous crime. Many parties and social activists in Tuticorin have joined in this agitation.

More details in English and Tamil at
Kappikulam, Ottapidaram, Thoothukudi

Krishnaraj Rao
Mumbai, Maharashtra

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