Skip to main content

Disappearance of environmentalist "suggests" police role against anti-Sterlite protestors

Counterview Desk
In a letter to Tamil Nadu chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, eminent citizens have expressed serious concern over the mysterious disappearance of environmental and human rights defender S Mugilan of Tamil Nadu, saying, he is "a target of attack by the state apparatus."
An articulate and outspoken activist advocating against sand mining, the dangers of nuclear power and industrial pollution, the letter says, Muligan's "abrupt disappearance and the silence of the Government of Tamil Nadu raise grave concerns about the state of civil liberties and human rights in Tamil Nadu, a state with a civil administration that once prided itself in being a cut above the rest."
The letter has been endorsed, among others, by Justice D Hariparanthaman, (Retd), Madras High Court, Chennai; Yogendra Yadav, President, Swaraj Party; Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court advocate; MG Devasahayam, IAS (Retd); Fatima, Anti Sterlite People's Movement, Thoothukudi; Kalpana Kannabiran, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad; R. Vaigai, Advocate, Chennai; Henri Tiphagne, People's Watch, Madurai; Maj Gen SG Vombatkere (Retd); Claude Alvares, Goa Foundation; K Kalpana, Academic, Chennai; and Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People's Movements.
Copies of the letter have been sent to Niranjan Mardy, additional chief secretary, home; Vijay Kumar, ADGP (Law & Order); C Sridhar, IGP (North Zone); Dr AK Viswanathan, commissioner, Chennai City Police; and superintendents of police, Kanchipuram and Villupuram, among others.

Text of the letter:

We are writing to you to ensure the safe return of Mugilan, an environmental rights activist who went missing at around midnight on 15 February. His disappearance barely half-a-day after highlighting the alleged role of senior police officers in the killings of 14 persons in a police action against anti-Sterlite protestors in Thoothukudi last May is deeply disturbing.
Mugilan has been an articulate and outspoken activist advocating against sand mining, the dangers of nuclear power and industrial pollution.
His abrupt disappearance and the silence of the Government of Tamil Nadu raise grave concerns about the state of civil liberties and human rights in Tamil Nadu, a state with a civil administration that once prided itself in being a cut above the rest.
We, express our deep concern and anxiety over Mugilan's safety, and urge the Government of Tamil Nadu and the state Police to ensure his safe return to his family.
Background
Mugilan addressed a press meet in Chennai on February 15, 2019 at around 11.30 AM regarding claims by the state that the killing of 14 persons by police firing on May 22, 2018, during an anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi was prompted by arson and rioting by a section of the protestors.
During the press meet he released a report and video titled 'Sterlite: Hidden Truth', which presented publicly available CCTV and TV footage to highlight how the the police acting in collusion with the management of Sterlite Copper orchestrated the violence that was then used as an excuse to fire and kill protestors.
Mugilan also named senior police officers implicating them in the events that led to the violence and killings.
He was last seen by a few of his friends at Egmore Railway Station in Chennai.
This is not the first time that Mugilan has been a target of attack by the State apparatus. He, along with numerous others, have been falsely accused and accused in several cases of sedition for their role in the non-violent civil disobedience struggle against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tirunelveli.
In 2012 when the protests against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant was at its peak, he was similarly abducted by the police on his way back from his home town and illegally detained for three days before being remanded to judicial custody in response to civil society pressure.
As we stand on the brink of climate catastrophe, people such as Mugilan who are advocating against environmentally degrading projects should be seen as voices of reason and wisdom, rather than as criminals. We urge the Government of Tamil Nadu to work in all seriousness to locate Mugilan and return him to his family.

Comments

TRENDING

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

RSS supremo Deoras 'supported' Emergency, but Indira, Sanjay Gandhi 'didn't respond'

By Shamsul Islam*
National Emergency was imposed on the country by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on June 25-26, 1975, and it lasted for 19 months. This period is considered as ''dark times' for Indian democratic polity. Indira Gandhi claimed that due to Jaiprakash Narayan's call to the armed forces to disobey the 'illegal' orders of Congress rulers had created a situation of anarchy and there was danger to the existence of Indian Republic so there was no alternative but to impose Emergency under article 352 of the Constitution.

Letter to friends, mentors: Coming together of class, communal, corona viruses 'scary'

By Prof (Dr) Mansee Bal Bhargava*
COVID greetings from Ahmedabad to dear mentors and friends from around the world…
I hope you are keeping well and taking care of yourself besides caring for the people around you. I’m writing to learn how is the science and the society coping with the prevention and cure of the pandemic. I’m also writing to share the state of the corona virus that is further complicated with the long-standing class and communal viruses.

Hurried nod to Western Ghat projects: 16 lakh Goans' water security 'jeopardised'

Counterview Desk
Taking strong exception to "virtual clearances" to eco-sensitive projects in the Western Ghats, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) in a statement has said urged for a review of the four-lane highway, 400 KV transmission line and double tracking of the railway line through the Bhagwan Mahavir Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park in Goa.

Disturbing signal? Reliance 'shifting focus' away from Indian petrochemical sector

By NS Venkataraman*
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL), a large Indian company, has expanded and grown in a spectacular manner during the last few decades, like of which no industrial group in India has performed before. RIL is now involved in multi various activities relating to petroleum refineries, petrochemicals, oil and gas exploration, coal bed methane, life sciences, retail business, communication network, (Jio platform) media/entertainment etc.

Oxfam on WB project: ICT 'ineffective', privatised learning to worsen gender divide

By Rajiv Shah 
A top multinational NGO, with presence in several developed and developing countries, has taken strong exception to the World Bank part-funding Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) project in six Indian states – Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Odisha – for its emphasis on information and communication technology (ICT)-enabled approaches for teacher development, student assessment and digital platform for early childhood education.

Cruel legacy of Green Revolution? Covid-19 underscores 'risky, fragile' food system

By Moin Qazi*  The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the risks of an unhealthy diet and the extreme fragility of food systems. The economic reconstruction that will follow the pandemic is the perfect opportunity to provide better nutrition and health to all. The pandemic should spur us to redefine how we feed ourselves, and agricultural research can play a vital role in making our food systems more sustainable and resilient.

Case for nationalising India's healthcare system amidst 'strong' private control

Counterview Desk
A draft discussion note, prepared by Dr Maya Valecha, a Gujarat-based gynecologist and activist, sent to the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as also a large number of activists, academics and professionals as an email alert, is all set to create a flutter among policy experts for its strong insistence on nationalizing India’s healthcare system.

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".