8 Irulas held for theft: NGO alleges fake case, torture
Sources said, on February 27, Katterikuppam police took A Sengeni (45) and a 17-year-old boy to the station while they were working in a brick kiln on Vazhudavur Road, Villupuram.
PUDUCHERRY/VILLUPURAM: Dalit activists have accused Puducherry police of violating the law while arresting members of the Irula community, in relation to a theft case. The activists have alleged that the arrested weren’t connected to the case and were tortured in custody.
Sources said, on February 27, Katterikuppam police took A Sengeni (45) and a 17-year-old boy to the station while they were working in a brick kiln on Vazhudavur Road, Villupuram. The following day, police took Ayyanar alias Ayyapan (50), Kattupoonai alias Sengeni (25), K Ramesh (42), another minor boy from the kiln, and D Sankar (35), who came to visit his relative.
VA Rameshbabu, executive director of the Social Awareness Society for Youth (SASY), alleged the police tortured the detainees to confess to a theft case. The police also allegedly went back to the kiln and took jewellery mortgage documents and four mobile phones from the huts of the detained persons. Three days later, the detainees were officially arrested in a theft case booked on November 3, 2022. The two minor boys were sent to a juvenile detention centre, while others were remanded in Kalapet Central Prison, said Rameshbabu.
“We came to know about the torture after visiting them in jail. Police insulted me and my daughter when they came to check my hut,” said A Karpagam, the wife of Ayyanar. SASY’s press release read, the police did not follow DK Basu case guidelines, including wearing uniforms with name badges and issuing arrest memos. “All seven arrested must be released immediately, and relief must be given. Action must also be taken against the cops involved in this illegal arrest and torture,” urged SASY.
Speaking to TNIE, a senior official from Katterikuppam police station denied the allegations. “We caught the duo during a vehicle check the previous night, and based on a confession, we arrested the other five the next day. We did not torture any of them, and as per law, they were produced before the magistrate and remanded in jail on the same day,” added the official.
A police source said, the seven were involved in nearly 15 theft cases. Moreover, on Monday, Mailam police arrested four of them in connection with two theft cases from January 24 and February 22, 2023, respectively.
Media coordinator of Pazhangudi Irular Paathugappu Sangam, R Murugappan said, “Police in Mailam always book Irula people in pending theft cases. Six months ago, they took ten Irula people and forced them to confess in theft cases.” Both Karpagam and Arunachalam have sent complaints to higher police officials in Puducherry.