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A voice for Nedumaran

P. Kalyani

At last, the good news has come. The Central pota Review Committee has given a clean chit to P. Nedumaran, the chief of the Tamil National Movement (tnm). The committee has stated that it found “no prima facie case for proceeding under Pota” against Nedumaran.

Following his arrest under Pota in August 2002 for allegedly making a speech in support of the ltte, Nedumaran had suffered greatly. He was in jail for nearly 16 months. Within two weeks of his arrest, his party was banned. Even after his release on bail, he was not allowed to address public meetings or speak to the media. Nedumaran is the only political leader I know of who is a genuine human rights activist.

In 1985, he visited Sri Lanka and recorded the atrocities of the army on video
In the ’80s, Nedumaran spoke against fake police encounters in Dharmapuri district. He toured the villages and exposed the fact that the police had falsely painted innocent people as Naxalites.

He took a keen interest in the Sri Lankan Tamils issue. In 1985, he visited the Tamil areas and recorded the atrocities of the Sri Lankan army on video. Later, he travelled around the world and highlighted the problems of the Tamils. He organised a campaign against death sentence. Thanks to his efforts, the Supreme Court released 19 of the 26 sentenced to death by the Tada court in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The death sentence of three persons was reduced to lifer.

In Tamil Nadu, Pota was used selectively to spread fear among the people. In all, it was invoked against 42 persons, including Nedumaran, mdmk leader Vaiko, and Nakkeeran editor RR Gopal.

Nedumaran has never indulged in any undemocratic activity. The Congress blood runs in him. He was close to Indira Gandhi when he was in the Congress. When hooligans attacked the late pm during one of her visits to Tamil Nadu, it was Nedumaran who shielded her and took the blows. He saved Indira Gandhi’s life.

The writer is a
Chennai-based rights activist

May 14 , 2005
 

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