COIMBATORE: Two activists have claimed that they were forced to sign a letter of apology for raising complaints against illegal sand mining by brick kilns at Chinna Thadagam. A couple of weeks after they filed a petition with the Collector, they were called to the office of Periyanaickenpalayam Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Mani and made to ‘voluntarily’ admit that they would not spread any false news against the brick kilns in future. This was done in the presence of 20 brick kiln owners, the activists said.
It was August 19, at a grievance redressal day programme, that Ranagaraj of Thadagam and R Parameswaran of Kavundampalayam filed a petition, alleging that brick kilns were illegally mining sand from Chinna Thadagam. The petition detailed the mining problem, the environmental issues associated with it and the threats the two men had received from brick kiln owners during the grama sabha meeting at Chinna Thadagam. After filing the petition, they also spoke to media persons at the collectorate about the issue. They also mentioned a few brick kilns by name.
Last week, they were the two men called to the DSP’s office. There, with around 20 brick kiln owners present, police officials forced them to write an apology letter addressed to DSP Mani, one of the activists claimed. “They asked us to give an apology letter, claiming that we spread false news against the brick kilns. With no other option, I signed that apology letter.”
Pointing out that they have been working only to stop illegal sand mining activities, he said that they had no other agenda. He urged the higher officials to investigate the biased approach of the police and sought protection.
DSP Mani has denied the charges. He claimed that he had only warned both parties when the issue came to clash. He categorically denied having asked for an apology letter.SP Sujith Kumar assured that he will inquire into the issue if the victims file a complaint with him.