July 3, 2001
1800 IST


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Reign of terror in TN: NDA report

Editor's Note: In the immediate aftermath of the pre-dawn arrest of DMK president Muthuvel Karunanidhi and Union Ministers Murasoli Maran and T R Baalu, a fact-finding team led by National Democratic Alliance convenor George Fernandes arrived in Madras.

On July 2, the team returned to New Delhi and submitted its report to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

The report will figure prominently in discussions the Union Cabinet, augmented by Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, are slated to have this evening in order to decide on the future course of action.

Presented, below, is the full text of the report:

The Prime Minister, in his capacity as Chairman of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), directed that a three-person delegation of the NDA proceed at once to Chennai and do an on the spot study of the situation prevailing in the State against the backdrop of the arrest and detention of Mr Murasoli Maran and Mr T R Baalu, both members of the Union Cabinet and Dr M Karunanidhi, former Chief Minister and an NDA stalwart. Accordingly, a three-man delegation consisting of Mr George Fernandes (leader), Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra visited Chennai on July 1, 2001.

The delegation met Mr Maran at the Apollo Hospital where he is in police custody, undergoing treatment for the injuries and shock sustained by him between 1.15 am and 5.00 am on 30th June, and is also under observation to check the effect of these on his heart condition which had almost killed him only a few month back.

The facts as conveyed to us by Mr Maran and the material evidence in our possession give the lie to the statements of the police authorities and the Chief Minister that Mr Maran and Mr Baalu had attacked the police and had tried to prevent public servants from doing their duty.

When we visited Dr Karunanidhi's home from where he was arrested, we saw the door of the main hall which gets bolted from inside had been broken open by policemen who had gone to arrest him. We also saw the telephone wires snapped by the policemen thereby effectively cutting off the communication system to prevent the family from seeking legal or other assistance. Dr Karunanidhi's wife showed us some of the bruises on her body inflicted by the physical blows she was subjected to by policemen -- all of them males -- when they had broken into the house. The daughter of Mr Murasoli Maran who is a doctor of medicine was similarly manhandled and her body bears witness to this with her swollen arms and other bruises.

Maran was sleeping in his house when he received a phone call at 1.45 am that the police had arrived at Dr Karunanidhi's house to arrest him, and reached Dr Karunanidhi's house to find the house under siege by the police, including a large number in plain clothes, and barricades at the entrance. Maran made his way through the barricades and asked a senior police officer whether he had a warrant to arrest Dr Karunanidhi, the grounds for arrest or even a piece of paper. The officer asked Maran very disrespectfully "Who are you to ask this?" He named three police officers of high rank, Christopher Nelson, Mohammed Ali and S. George as being among the more rude and violent persons who misbehaved with him.

As the police were dragging Dr Karunanidhi towards the door after having pulled him out of his bed, Dr Karunanidhi and his family members, some of them women, appealed to the police not to use force and also allow him to wear his clothes. Dr Karunanidhi himself told the police that he will change from his night clothes behind a curtain held by two family members so as not to embarrass the women folk in the room. The police refused to relent and dragged him down the steps in his night clothes. Maran who had been pushed to the ground by the police, came running down the stairs and in the subsequent efforts made by him to be with Dr Karunanidhi as a close relation and so a concerned person, he had to face police violence at every stage. Twice he became unconscious.

Later from the hospital where he had been admitted, he made calls to the Prime Minister to brief him about those happenings. The police and the State administration were aware of these calls as they had posted themselves in the hospital. At 4.00 pm on 30th June, the police came to inform him that he had been arrested and that he would be taken to jail. The Doctors attending on him told the police that they could take Maran at their risk, at which point the police said he could stay in hospital.

In a demonstration of their evil intentions, the police hit him a little above the chest on his left side where a pacemaker has been planted. His specs have been broken and we saw his blood-stained dhoti in his hospital room. The police officer Mohammed Ali has gone public saying that he was hit by Mr Maran with his ring. This is a double lie. Maran does not wear a ring on his finger nor did he hit him.

The diabolical manner in which the Chief Minister has subverted the Constitution and made mockery of the rule of law to fix Dr Karunanidhi becomes obvious from the way the complaint on the basis of which Dr Karunanidhi and some others have been arrested in what has been trumpeted as the 'flyover scam' was cooked up.

The Chief Minister, soon after being sworn in, asked the Municipal Commissioner of Chennai to prepare papers to file a case of corruption against Dr Karunanidhi and others. The Commissioner, who had just been appointed by her, after studying the files pointed out that there was nothing on record to cook up such a case. On June 20, the Commissioner was transferred and another IAS official, by name Acharyalu was appointed in his place. Acharyalu is facing trial on charges of corruption, and had been arrested and remanded to jail custody, during which period he had been suspended from duty. On June 29, he lodges a complaint. A few hours later Dr Karunanidhi and others are arrested.

We visited the Madras Central Jail where Dr Karunanidhi is lodged and met him in his cell. The cell, which is approximately 8x10 ft, has a rickety bed, a small table and a chair, and a ceiling fan. The Tamil Nadu Government and its chief minister are aware that Dr Karunanidhi who is 78 years old is suffering from many ailments and is under constant treatment. His family members told us that his doctor has not been allowed to examine him in prison. Nor are they aware whether the kind of drugs he needs have been made available to him.

From political leaders to media persons and from intellectuals to labourers, Tamil Nadu is presently living in terror of a convicted person, not elected to the Legislative Assembly, yet functioning as Chief Minister and defying and defiling the Constitution of the country. The figure of political activists -- a majority of them from DMK -- arrested and jailed during the last 48 hours is said to be anywhere between 40,000 to 50,000. Since jails in Tamil Nadu cannot accommodate so many arrested people, they are herded like sheep outside prison gates, watched by policemen who seem to have received the licence from the Chief Minister to demonstrate the worst in them.

The attack on the journalists of both print and electronic media has many of them cowering because of the body blows they have been subjected to. The Sun TV officials and senior journalists have been receiving threats to their lives and to that of their children.

Many of these journalists met with us and pleaded that the Union Government intervene with the State administration to provide them and their families with protection.

Every one we met expressed surprise and shock that the Union Government should allow a state of affairs in which two members of the Union Cabinet should be under arrest on trumped up charges. That one of them should be in Vellore jail, where the most hardened criminals are housed, makes many believe that the Chief Minister can get away with murder. There is an overwhelming feeling among the people that the Union Government has left them to their fate at the hands of a megalomaniac.

Mr Aladi Aruna who was the Law Minister in Dr Karunanidhi's cabinet and who in every meeting of the Inter State Council and in a sub-committee of the Council took an uncompromising position on behalf of his state against the retention of article 356 in the Constitution of India pleaded with us yesterday that article 356 be invoked immediately to save the State and to protect the Constitutional rights of the people. Mr Aladi Aruna repeatedly said that if the Union Government should fail to act, every State will feel free to arrest members of the government of the Union and of other States. Dr Karunanidhi also spoke to us to the same effect.

The leaders of various political parties whom we met, including the BJP have also told us very strongly that with the breakdown of the Constitution in the State, the Union Government should invoke Article 356 and dismiss the Government.

We believe that by arresting two members of the Union Cabinet, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu has opened of the doors of anarchy as no one person or political party had done since Independence. If these are not shut immediately, the country may have to face an unprecedented assault on its unity and integrity. This is what makes us see justification and strength in the demand of these parties.

It is for the government to take whatever decision it deems necessary to restore the rule of law and enforce the Constitution in Tamil Nadu, and to secure the release of those who have become victims of a single person's maniacal disposition.

Three sets of pictorial prints from the videotape which bear witness to the barbarity perpetrated on Dr Karunandihi, Mr Maran and Mr Baalu and nail the lies of the police and the chief minister are appended to this report. A video cassette on the arrest of Dr Karunanidhi is also being sent with this report.

Dated: 02.07.2001

George Fernandes/S.S. Dhindsa/V.K. Malhotra

Karunanidhi's Arrest: The Complete Coverage

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