The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Torture slur on cops

Kozhikode, Feb. 24: The stand-off at the Muthanga wildlife sanctuary between law enforcement agencies and the tribal families who illegally occupied the sanctuary is over.

All the leaders of the Adivasi Gothra Mahasabha, which led the agitation, have been arrested and remanded. The police operation against the tribals and supporters of tribal organisations, however, continues. Even uninvolved tribals and non-tribals are said to be facing police action.

The operation is being undertaken in the name of “exposing the criminal conspiracy behind the armed tribal rebellion aided by the People’s War Group”.

Raids and detentions for interrogation continued today across north Kerala. According to tribal activists, a “reign of terror has been unleashed not only in the tribal colonies in and around Muthanga, but in other parts of the state, too”.

Aralam, a collective farm of adivasis in Kannur district, is said to be particularly affected.

The intensive operations there have forced most men to go into hiding. Some women of Kaithakolli colony alleged that police beat and harassed them during intermittent raids since Friday night.

Kavitha, a young tribal mother, alleged that a police constable threatened to kill her for supporting the Mahasabha.

‘‘They beat up everybody, including the children, and destroyed the pujamuri (prayer room) where we had kept idols and traditional lamps used for puja,” Kavitha said.

The attacks intensified after Mahasabha leaders such as C.K. Janu and Geetanandan surrendered on Saturday, says 70-year-old Chirutha.

Janu’s face was swollen when she was brought to the district court. Both Janu and Geetanandan were taken to the Kozhikode medical college today for a check-up.

The police action has evoked widespread protests with the CPM-led Opposition walking out of the Assembly today and staging a relay satyagraha in the House foyer.

The Opposition reiterated its demand for a judicial inquiry into the Muthanga clash of February 19, particularly into the claims and counter-claims of deaths.

While the government put the death toll at two, Opposition parties and social organisations estimated more deaths in the clash in the deep forests.

Kuldip Nayar, senior journalist and Rajya Sabha member, met chief minister A.K. Antony at Thiruvananthapuram and sought details of the happenings of the past five days. He urged Antony to reign in “errant” police officials.

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