Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Petition : Inquiry into Custodial Death of Varkala Vijayan During the State of Emergency in India, 1975-77

Inquiry into Custodial Death of Varkala Vijayan During the State of Emergency in India, 1975-77

Please sign the petition here

BTW for the curious
Noam Chomsky has indeed signed this petition as confirmed
by the mainstream media reports.
His signature is No 17

Extract from the petition

To: Government of Kerala, India

An Appeal to the Government of Kerala, India

The period end-June 1975 to mid-March 1977 marks a critical period in India’s democratic polity. The ‘state of internal emergency’ declared by the Government of India did away with individual and collective rights of freedom of expression as guaranteed under the Constitution. Those twenty months saw the gagging of free press, forced family planning among minority communities, ban on several political organisations, raid on party offices, setting up of torture camps, unrecorded arrests, increased number of custodial deaths, fake encounters, and ‘missing’.

One among the many who were brutally tortured and killed in custody was 24-year-old Varkala Vijayan, political activist and theatre person of Kerala. Very little, however, was known about his death then. His body was never recovered. Given the adverse conditions, the press failed to report the incident. Unlike in certain others, in the case of Vijayan, no substantive inquiry has been conducted even to this date.

In 1998, Dayanandan, the driver of the police jeep that carried Vijayan’s body to the Ponmudi hills, near Kerala’s capital, Thiruvananthapuram, to be burnt and evidence destroyed, narrated the events and sites relating to his killing and disposing of the corpse. More recently, Sathi, who was taken into custody along with Vijayan, has detailed the happenings in the police torture camp. There are other witnesses as well.

What emerges from their accounts is that Vijayan was taken into custody on 5th March 1976 and killed within two days. The police charge against Vijayan was that as an activist of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist), he had put up posters and scripted a play in protest against the internal emergency.

A large section of Kerala’s workers, artists, activists, journalists, academics, intellectuals, and others have demanded a fresh inquiry, in the light of new evidence, into Vijayan’s death. The demand is based on the premise that such an inquiry has crucial implications, not only for recovering the even now little known history of those days and reaffirming the ideals of democracy, but for preventing deaths in custody that continue to occur in Kerala and India. The issue has now received widespread media attention.

I actively support the cause and appeal to the Government of Kerala to conduct a comprehensive inquiry into the circumstances that led to the death of Varkala Vijayan and initiate action to bring the guilty to book.

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