The M.F. Farooqui Commission, appointed to probe into the circumstances leading to the recent detention of Communist Party of India (Marxist) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat by the Madurai rural police, began its enquiry here on Saturday.
Several police officers, constables and cadres of the CPI (M) gave oral evidence and submitted affidavits. The one-man commission, appointed by the State government, will hold its next round of hearing on October 6.
The hearing pertains to the ‘detention’ of Ms. Karat and 10 others on September 12 at the Tirupparankundram police station while she was proceeding to Uthapuram, a village where the ‘wall of untouchability’ was partially demolished last year.
All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) State secretary U. Nirmala Rani presented a requisition to Mr. Farooqui, who is the Principal Secretary (Industries), seeking more time for Ms. Karat and State leaders of AIDWA to give evidence. The leaders could not file their affidavits since the information on the enquiry reached them only on Friday.
Ms. Rani, who was also ‘detained’ along with Ms. Karat, said that all the leaders were taken into a police van only after the police declared that they were being arrested for trying to proceed to Uthapuram.
CPI (M) rural district secretary V. Sundaram said that only after Ms. Karat sought the relevant papers for their arrest did the police prepare a first information report.
Ms. Rani said that the FIR had stated that they were arrested under four sections of the Indian Penal Code and Section 30 (20) of the Police Act. “[However] we were allowed to go to Uthapuram. We did not demand personal bail nor were we asked to sign any papers [for bail].”
Pointing out that there was contradiction among police officers on the issue, Ms. Rani said: “While the Superintendent of Police [M. Manohar] went on record to state that we were arrested and let off on bail, the Deputy Inspector-General of Police [K. Balasubramanian] claimed that we were not arrested, but were only taken to Uthapuram with police protection. The police did not follow the legal ways either for the arrest or for the release. “[If we were not arrested] it is illegal detention.”
When pointed out that the date and time of hearing by the Commission was not publicised through the media, Mr. Farooqui said: “We will do it, if necessary. But, all those who are related [to the enquiry] were informed.”
Collector N. Mathivanan and Superintendent of Police M. Manohar were present. Among those who submitted evidence were rural district secretaries, V. Sundaram (CPI-M), S.K. Ponnuthai (AIDWA) and convenor of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front M. Thangaraj.