Book AIADMK cadres: NHRC

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Monday asked Tamil Nadu Police to book AIADMK supporters who pierced cheeks of children as part of a ritual for speedy recovery of former Chief Minister Jayalalithaa.

The directions, which included seeking a report from the state government on steps taken to stop such rituals, came after the Chennai Police Commissioner confirmed that such an incident took place on 3 October 2016.

The NHRC also wanted to know from police about the disciplinary action taken against “erring” policemen, who were present at the site and “did nothing to stop the criminal act”.

The police came in for severe criticism from the NHRC after the Commissioner suggested that children participated in the event with the approval of their parents and were not forced to do so. However, the officer accepted that the incident was a gross violation of child rights and that the police personnel who were at the spot “had been severely warned”.

Rebuffing the Commissioner, the NHRC said that it “fails to understand” how the consent of the parents or that of the children for the ritual “can justify the criminal act of piercing children’s cheeks” with rods. “Admittedly, the police officials, present at the site of the incident did nothing to stop it. Therefore, a simple warning to the erring police personnel is abysmal considering the gravity of the incident,” it said.

Armed with the police report, NHRC said AIADMK supporters forced around 20 children to pierce their cheeks with two metre steel rods as part of a ritual for the then ailing Jayalalithaa’s speedy recovery.

The children were made to walk from Murugan Temple in R K Nagar to Seniamman Temple in Tondiarpet by the supporters of AIADMK and that the children were “very small” and their cheeks were forcibly pierced,” it said.

“A photograph reveals that the children were made to wear a cap with a photograph of Jayalalithaa and with slogan written on it — ‘long live Amma’. One girl is seen caught by some persons for the purpose of piercing her cheeks. The incident makes it a clear case of violation of human rights of children,” it said.

The NHRC directed Additional Commissioner of Police (Law and Order) in North Chennai to register the case under sections of criminal conspiracy, common intention, voluntarily causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons and wrongful restraint against AIADMK supporters who organised the programme.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Sep 27, 2017)

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