SIGN and SUPPORT the Cause of Prisoners who are on an Indefinite Hunger Strike in Tamil Nadu Jails
We are mailing you an appeal addressed to Eleven POTA Prisoners of Tamil Nadu who are on Hunger Strike since 26/9/2004. Today is the 17th day of their indefinite fast and most of them, including three women, are in a precarious condition. Any one of them may suffer the loss of life or permanent damage to vital organs like kidneys if the government remains adamant and the prisoners continue with their struggle in this way. It is a matter of concern for all justice loving, democratic and humane people. They should come forward in defence of the prisoners´ cause. The prisoners are demanding the withdrawal of POTA cases against themselves and others and also the repeal of POTA as a law.
The case highlights:
1. These prisoners are political prisoners and, are twenty seven in number.
2. They are members of the Revolutionary Youth League (RYL).
3. They were arrested in November 2002 from a place in Dharmapuri district of Tami Nadu while they were attending a political class.
4. In January 2003 they were charged under POTA
5. Their trial has not yet started even when it is about two years when they were incarcerated.
6. Their petition before the Review Committee on POTA is still pending as the Government of Tamil Nadu is not co-operating.
7. Already, a representation has been made to the Home Minister of India but he has expressed his helplessness to intervene.
8. Many prominent personalities have come in support of the cause of these prisoners.
Now, as the government of Tamil Nadu is intransigent the danger to the life of these prisoners has increased. Some intellectuals and human and democratic rights activists have decided to intervene into the matter to end this fast. Here, we are sending an appeal to you to express your concern by signing it.
So, please SIGN and SUPPORT:
An APPEAL to the PRISONERS who are on an Indefinite Hunger Strike in Chennai and Vellore Jails
We are deeply disturbed that the authorities in Tamil Nadu have not taken any notice of the 11 political prisoners who are on indefinite hunger strike since August 26, 2004. We are informed that the condition of the prisoners, including three women, has deteriorated and their lives are in danger. It is a matter of great concern that when the Central Government has decided to repeal POTA, it is Tamil Nadu government which is not willing to consider the demand for withdrawal of POTA cases against the prisoners. It is not ready to hear repeated pleas of the people throughout the country who are concerned with the health condition of the hunger strikers.
The prisoners are justified in their demand to lift cases against them. Firstly, they are being held inside the prison for a long time without trial. Secondly, they are political prisoners and they should be given the right to protest and to be heard through democratic means. Going on hunger strike inside the jails is one of the democratic means the prisoners usually adopt throughout the world. It is resorted to only when all channels of protest in the jails make no impact. The intransigence of the Tamil Nadu Government has forced the prisoners to take such a step which entails a danger of bringing death to the hunger strikers themselves rather than of hurting any other person.
We strongly wish that the voice of these prisoners should be heeded by the government of Tamil Nadu.
To the prisoners we say that their cause is justified and we support their cause. It has now become a public issue and their struggle has become a part of the over all struggle for democratic rights. Some of the eminent concerned citizens such as Justice Rajinder Sachar, Ex-Member of Parliament Surender Mohan, Democratic Rights Activist Gautam Navlakha, Dr. Tripta Wahi and others met the Home Minister of India on 9th September 2004 and submitted to him a memorandum demanding immediate intervention in this matter.
We appeal to the brothers and sisters sitting on indefinite hunger strike that as their cause is being taken up by the people outside of the jails they should end their fast. We will continue to take up you cause and hope that this cause would find mass support among the intellectuals, democratic, human and civil rights activists and justice loving people throughout the country.
So, please end your fast and accept our congratulation for standing uprightly and determinedly against oppression and injustice.
September 11, 2004
1. Justice Rajinder Sachar
2. Justice Ajit Singh Bains
3. Shri Surender Mohan, Ex-MP
4. Dr. Nirmala Deshpande
5. Prof. Ali Javed, DU
6. Gautam Navlakha
7. Dr. Tripta Wahi, DU
8. Prof. Jagmohan Singh
9. Hari Singh Tarq, President AFDR Punjab
ALL INDIA PEOPLES RESISTANCE FORUM
8th September 2004.
The Governor of Tamil Nadu,
Thje Resident Commisioner
Tamil Nadu Bhawan,
Subject: Immediate withdrawal of POTA Detenus and release of political prisoners on hunger strike.
We urge you to intervene immediately and save the lives of 10 political prisoners who are on indefinite hunger strike in Tamil Nadu prisons since 26 August 2004. of these seven male prisoners –Manivasagam, Vnayagam, Thangapandian, Sathish Kumar, Sakthivel, and Muthu, are on hunger strike at Chennai Central Jail. Three women detenus…—Reena Joyce Mary, Rita Mary, Uma Anandhi, are in Vellor Special Jail for Women. On 2nd September 2004, the condition of three women prisoner deteriorated and they were taken to the Vellore Generaql Hospital for treatment. Despite the deterioration in their condition, the men are still being kept inside the prison. The condition of at least three of them is critical. According to prison doctors if the prisoners do not give up their hunger strike they may lose vital organs like the kidney and liver. All of them except one are below 30 years of age.
The facts of the case are as follows:
The hunger striking political prisoners along with 14 others were picked up by the Uthangarai police in Dharmapuri district on 24 November 2002, while allegedly holding a meeting in a mango grove. On 2nd December 2002, the case was transferred to the Q branch of the police. Subsequently, on 10th January 2003, the government imposed POTA on all the accused claiming that they were members of the Radical Youth League (RYL), a mass front of the Communist Party of India (ML). A final report against them was filed in the special court. Besides POTA, the accused have been charged with offences under the IPc, the Arms Act and the Explosives Substance Act.
The accused included two boys, Bhagat Singh and Prabhakaran, and six women. While the juveniles secured bail from the High Court after they were denied bail by the POTA Court at Poonamallee. In fact, the second bail petition was dismissed by the Special Court after the 17th October 2003 Supreme Court ruling that in the event of completion of one year in detention bail plea by a POTA accused be considered as ordinary law provision. The criminal revision petition against the denial of bail filed in the high court on 26 February 2004, is still pending. The petition has so far seen three division benches headed by senior judges. The reason for the delay in the disposal of the plea includes non compliance of prosecution arguments. No trail has yet begun even after the lapse of almost two years.
The accused have taken the recourse to hunger strike ij response to their wrongful detention and imposition of draconian POTA, the repressive attitude of police machinery, which had earlier killed two of their associates in a false encounter, and the failure of the criminal justice system to provide them relief which is due to them as citizens of this country.
We wish to draw the attention of the authorities to the arbitrary imposition of POTA in this case and request that POTA be withdrawn, so as to facilitate their release and save their lives.
Forum in Support of Striking POTA Prisoners
All India Peoples Resistance Forum (AIPRF), Democratic Students Union (DSU), Forum for Democratic Initiative (FDI), Forum for Democratic Struggle (FDS), Indian Centre for Trade Unions (ICTU), Lokraj Sangathan, Mehanatkash Mazdoor Morcha (MMM), NECOHR, Progressive Students Union (PSU), People´s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Samajik Nayaya Morcha, Sandhan, Struggling Forum for People´s Resistance (SFPR), Yuva Bharat, Vikalp, Manipur Students Association, Delhi (MSAD).
1. Jagat --(NECOHR)
2. President, MSAD
3. Anjani Kumar …—AIPRF, Delhi
4. Ujjwal Kumar Singh …—PUDR
5. Sukhbir …—MMM
6. Vijay Singh …—MEM
7. Jeevan …—Vikalp
8. Manoj –DSU
10. H. Ashi…—MUSU
11. Jagdish…—Jan Pratirodh Manch, Delhi