TAMIL NADU

PUCL protests `intemperate' police remark

CHENNAI Oct. 13. The People's Union of Civil Liberties has condemned the reported statement by a Joint Commissioner of Police, Chennai, that the police ``will wipe out gangs involved in illegal mediation (katta panchayat)''.

Such language is not only intemperate and undignified but ``mirrors the way some in the police view human beings as vermin to be exterminated", according to V. Suresh, general secretary, PUCL (Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry).

In a statement, he said it also showed their scorn and disregard for human rights and rule of law. The role of the police was limited to investigation and prosecution and they did not have the authority to dispense summary justice as was witnessed in the increasing trend of ``encounter deaths''.

``These summary executions make the police as guilty as those dealing in katta panchayat, if not more.'' Dr. Suresh said the shooting down of Venkatesa Pannaiyar on September 26 by a special police squad in his apartment here, was the latest in a spate of encounter deaths in the city in recent moths. Eighteen persons had been shot dead in the last two and a half years, with 10 encounter deaths occurring within the last 12 months.

In none of the encounter incidents the police were able to nab the main person who they described as `kingpins', `desperadoes' and `ganglords'. The PUCL would support legal action against all law-breakers, their sponsors or supporters, but the police could not take law into their own hands and use brute power to dispense summary justice in the form of staged encounters, Dr. Suresh said.

The PUCL demanded that the Government register cases against the police personnel responsible for the encounter deaths, and ensure that such cases were investigated by an independent agency such as the CBI.

The State police, by declaring that gangs would be ``wiped out'' had given the go-by to the fundamental principle that every accused was presumed innocent until proved guilty, Dr. Suresh said.

PMK demands

CBI probe

CHENNAI OCT. 13. The PMK has demanded a CBI enquiry into the death of `Pannayar' Venkatesan.

In a statement, S. Ramadoss, founder of the party, said as the killing of Venkatesan in an encounter had created suspicions, the State Government should facilitate the CBI probe to find the truth.

He said it was strange that the police had placed ``stringent conditions'' for holding a condolence meeting, and refused permission for a protest fast.

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