The National Human Rights Commission has described the alleged police assault on anti-liquor protesters in Tamil Nadu’s Tirupur district as a “serious violation of rights”, and issued notices to the top bureaucrat and police officer of the state seeking a report on the incident.
Police used force to break up the nine-hour agitation against a government-owned liquor shop at Samalapuram village in Palladam taluk of Tirupur district, some 450 km southwest of Chennai, on Tuesday evening.
Tirupur’s additional deputy superintendent of police A Pandiarajan was caught on camera hitting a woman with a baton and slapping her as he tried to disperse the protesters, who had blocked the road demanding the removal of a Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) liquor from their village.
Pandiarajan also beat up other protesters as well. More than 20 villagers were injured in the lathi charge.
The woman, who was also injured in the head, was later identified as Eswari from nearby Ayyampalayam village. The video of the incident went gone viral drawing strong condemnation and protests.
“The commission has observed that it appears the police had taken the law into their hands by exceeding their power in resorting to an indiscriminate beating of the protesters,” NHRC said in a release on Wednesday.
“A senior officer himself had gone to the extent of beating those women who were standing helpless and defenceless. The act of the police is nothing but a serious violation of human rights as well as the rights guaranteed to women for their self-respect,” the commission said.
NHRC said it issued notices to chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan, director general of police TK Rajendran and Tirupur superintendent of police ES Uma, calling for reports within two weeks on the “widely reported incident of police excess while dispersing about 300 people.”
The villagers also picketed the MLA of Sulur, R Kanagaraj, who was passing through the village. Kanagaraj tried to pacify the villagers and left after an assurance from Tirupur collector S Jayanthi that the shop would be closed.
Protests erupted in Tirupur and Coimbatore again on Wednesday after the video clip of the burly police official hitting the woman protestor, among a throng of people, went viral. Police detained at least 20 protesters and threatened to slap criminal cases against them.
The villagers were pacified only after Jayanthi issued an order shutting the TASMAC shop permanently late on Wednesday afternoon.