Uphold Freedom of Speech and Protect Human Rights in Tamil Nadu, India sign now

To: State Government of Tamil Nadu
Copy To: Government of India

Hon. Shri M. Karunanidhi
Chief Minister
Government of Tamil Nadu
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

and

Hon. Shri Manmohan Singh
Prime Minister
Government of India
New Delhi, India

Dear Sir,

We, the undersigned, want to bring to your attention to the atrocities committed by the Tamil Nadu Police against an exhibition of paintings organized by FACT (Foundation Against Continuing Terrorism) in Chennai from the 3rd of March to 9th of March, 2008. The venue of the Exhibition was "Lalit Kala Academy" (National Academy of Art), Greams Road, Chennai.

On March 6th, Mr. Murali of Tamil Nadu police started abusing the volunteer-workers at the Exhibition. He rushed up to the hall with his full team of around dozen officers and started pulling down the exhibits with force despite the repeated plea of the volunteers to wait till the arrival of Mr. Francois (the FACT official) from the City Police commissioner's office. Even when the volunteers had pleaded that they would remove the paintings themselves, he did not bother to listen to them and abused them in unparliamentarily language. He had used worse & unprintable words against Mr. Francois and had termed him as 'terrorist'. Then he had forced the volunteers to close & lock the hall and arrested four organizer-volunteers (Mrs. Srarswathi, Mrs. Vijayalakshmi, Mrs.Malathi and Mr. B.R. Haran) and one senior citizen, Mr. S. Raman and took them to the local station (Thousand Lights-F4). At the police station Mr. Murali threatened to confiscate the passport of Mrs. Saraswathi's daughter Ms. Anupama.

We the undersigned want to point out that

1. As per Indian Law, women are not supposed to be arrested after 6 p.m

2. No arrest memo was given to the persons arrested

3. No lady police officer or lady constable was present at the time of
arrest

4. On orders from the Joint Commissioner of Police Mr. Balasubramaniam, AC
Murali was compelled to release the women but he did so only after forcing
them to write and sign a statement that they came to the police station only
for inquiry and that they were being 'let off' after inquiry

5. Mr. Murali besides using the foulest language against Francois
Gautier (vellakara naai, porukki, terrorist, associates of terrorist) was
also guilty of removing and causing damage to the paintings.

A police officer cannot interpret the law nor take the law
into his own hands. He must only enforce the law. Violating procedural guidelines with regard to arrest of persons, particularly elderly women, and the use of abusive and foul language, is in our view a very gross offence and merits the strictest disciplinary action by the police department against the police officer concerned. The officer concerned must tender an unqualified apology to all the three women either in writing to them. We are sure you will heed our legitimate demand and act in best interest of rule of law which is the defining feature of mature democracies.

We, the undersigned, demand that the concerned police officers be punished, and the FACT exhibition be allowed to be exhibited unhindered in Tamil Nadu and elsewhere in India. Further, please ensure that freedom of speech and expression be held as enshrined in the constitution, to which you have sworn to uphold.

Thanking you.

The Undersigned.

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Georgette GatesBy:
ReligionIn:
Petition target:
State Government of Tamil Nadu, India

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