TAMIL NADU

CB-CID probe ordered into 'custodial rape'

CHENNAI May 9. The Tamil Nadu Government today ordered a State CB-CID inquiry into the alleged custodial rape and molestation of tribal women by the Vaniyambadi police last January, even as the Opposition parties demanded a full-scale probe.

Replying to a special mention, the Chief Minister, Jayalalithaa, assured the House that the Government would not hesitate to provide required assistance to the victims if the alleged police excesses were proved.

The Tamil Nadu Tribal Welfare Federation, at a press meet on March 2, alleged that a 14-year-old tribal girl, Manimegalai, was raped by a head constable, while another tribal woman, Vijaya, was sexually harassed on January 8.

Demanding a CBI probe, the Federation had also accused the Vaniyambadi police of having harassed Manimegalai's husband, Prakash and his father, Govindasamy.

The Chief Minister said police records showed that Prakash of Ellachur village in Uthangarai division in Dharmapuri district, had been involved in thefts. His brother, Kura Anandan, too was charged in eight theft cases in Vellore district.

The police who were searching for Kura Anandan, arrested his wife, Sathya, on January 4 in connection with a pocket picking incident, while Prakash and his associate, Sathisavam, were held for a gang robbery attempt on January 13. Also, Prakash's relative, Nachimuthu and his wife, Mangai, were arrested in connection with a pocket picking incident on January 28.

Besides, Kura Anandan's girl friend, Vijaya was picked up in Vaniyambadi on March 4 for disturbing the public peace.

But neither Manimegali nor Vijaya was taken to the Vaniyambadi police station on January 8 for interrogation. Also, Manimegalai had not lodged a complaint with any senior police officer or the judicial magistrate about the rape, until the Federation went to the press about the incident.

Since Prakash and Kura Anandan were habitual offenders, a doubt arose whether they flung allegations of rape and molestation to tarnish the image of the Vaniyambadi police, the Chief Minister said.

However, in the wake of media reports, the Government was keen on unearthing the truth and hence a CB-CID inquiry had been ordered to probe the chain of incidents — right from the arrest of Prakash and Kura Anandan to the charges of sexual harassment.

Earlier, the CPI(M) member, K.Balabarathi, demanded a CBI inquiry, the TMC whip, C.Gnanasekaran, wanted a probe by a sitting Judge of the Madras High Court. The PMK leader, G.K.Mani, described the incident as a blot on the image of the Tamil Nadu police, while the DMK whip, E.Pugazhendi, wanted to know whether the Government would mete out justice to the affected women.

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