“Police should not have taken extreme step of firing”

Latha Priyakumar, Member, National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), said that the lives of six Dalits could have been saved if police had handled the agitation in a proper manner.

She was visiting Paramakudi and Ramanathapuram to enquire into the police firing at Paramakudi on Thursday.

Describing the deaths as very unfortunate, she said the mishandling of the issue had claimed innocent lives.

The preventive measures taken by officials had not created conducive atmosphere for smooth conduct of the Immanuel Sekaran Memorial Day. While the public told her that teargas shells were not lobbed before firing, the police had claimed that the protestors were initially lathi-charged and teargas shells burst.

However, the police had not used the public address system to warn the protestors. Similarly, the public had stated that most of those who died were targeted above the waist.

She felt that the police should not have taken the extreme step of firing at the protestors for burning government vehicles. No one could bring back the lives of them but the vehicles could be bought.

They should have cleared the agitators by other means.

Ms. Priyakumar said if police thought that the visit of John Pandian to Pachery village, where a Dalit boy was murdered, would create a law and order problem, they could have allowed him to visit the memorial at Paramakudi.

Asked whether the Commission felt that there was a need for prosecuting the officials concerned under the SC/ST Act, E. Dasarathan, Director (Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry), NCSC, said that the Collector the Superintendent of Police had presented the preliminary reports about the incident. The Commission had sought a detailed report from them.