Call to enact law to protect human rights defenders
Madurai: Calling Ashok, the murdered Tirunelveli district treasurer of Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), a defender of dalit rights in his village, the NGO Evidence has demanded a separate act that will put an end to the murder of human rights defenders.
Executive director of the NGO, A Kathir, who conducted a fact-finding in the village, claimed that six dalits had been murdered there by people from the thevar community over various issues in the last 20 years. “During the murder of Ashok the accused had condemned him for raising his voice against their community,” he said. Based on the data collected, he said that at least 33 dalits had been murdered across Tamil Nadu since 2016 for fighting for the rights of dalits or for a social cause. “It ranges from murder for performing inter-caste marriages and opposing sale of spurious liquor to that of fighting for the cause of dalits as in the case of Murugan of Sivaganga. He was brutally murdered in the seventh attempt on his life in 2017,” Kathir said.
He said an act more stringent than the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 should be brought to protect the lives of such defenders of human rights. In the Ashok murder case, the NGO has urged the government to appoint an officer in the rank of superintendent of police as investigation officer. All the accused should be detained under Goondas Act and not granted bail till the completion of trial. Demanding a compensation of Rs 50 lakh to the victim’s family,
Evidence also sought a monthly pension of Rs 11,600.