| by Murugan
The writer, One of the death Convicts in Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case
translated by L.Annadoure – (Junior Vikaden dt.5.10.2011)
( February 06, Chennai, Sri Lanka Guardian) When I was in Ilangai I had not heard much about the structure of police force and their activities and the court proceedings, for these were less conspicuous there. But having been entwined and indicted in Rajiv Gandhi Assassination case, the perennial tortures which I was subjected to while being in the police custody and the pangs of pain and agony which I had suffered in appearing before and attending the court proceedings were not negligible.
( A file photo of Nalini, a convict in
Rajiv Gandhi assasination case.
Photo: S.R.Raghunathan – The Hindu )
The Accusers must place credible evidence and prove the truth and veracity of the accusatory claims leveled against and this is the primer and the basic of criminal jurisprudence which is being followed all the world over. But in our case such an important judicial norm which has grown and entrenched firmly over time so as to protect the fundamental human right has been mishandled.
The reason for breaching the basic law and the cruel tentacles having stung us is either ourselves or some body must be punished owing to bureaucratic zealousness! It is always natural, logical, sensible and truthful that a person indicted and implicated with commission of criminal offence cannot come to prove with production of sufficient witnesses and documents that he is innocent of the charges foisted against him so as to exonerate and extricate himself.
My family members would be the right persons to be witnesses to substantiate the claim that I was not at the scene of offence and that I was at home at the time of commission of criminal offence. But, since some of my family members themselves having been incriminated and indicted and some other of my family members having been set up as prosecution witnesses already, the law had enjoined that I must prove my innocence. How and where could I procure witnesses to prove that I was innocent of the offence foisted against me. The incident was not so simple and it shook the whole nation!
I did not know of the prevailing laws, court procedures and police actions and their activities in Tamil Nadu. Having been caught up in the vortex, shattered, maimed for life and having entered and returned from the threshold of death daily, I had come to perceive how brutal the action on the part of the police would be!
Here, I must tell the horrible tortures which I was subjected to when I was in the custody of police officers.
In order to obtain a fabricated confessional statement from me they had jettisoned all sorts of cruel tortures against me.
This is how I was tortured. They would push me over a table so that both my legs would dangle and both the legs would be tied up together. Then four of five police officer would sit over my back and they would strike on the soles of my feet with stick incessantly and on such occasions the excruciating pain would well up and make the spate of my skull burst out and by wielding one more blow the heart would seem to stop beating. The result of such beating would render me not to raise and stand up for not less than 3 days. If I had tried to place my feet on the ground then I would feel that my very life would seem to depart from me. Not alone these, a person who when he once was subjected to such cruelties he would be bereft of movement henceforth; he could not run or walk fast and his tendons and nerves would become dysfunctional.
Another part of the cruelties and tortures which they had done to me was they would tie up my legs so as to hang me upside down and beat me at my buttocks which naturally would become so swollen as a result of which I had to struggle hard going for toilet and while beating me thus the police would bring another accused person and show him how their dexterity was in showering blows on me and on such occasions the fear that would crop on being exhibited thus was more cruel than receipt of actual beatings in themselves. Whenever I was hung upside down I would feel that I had to make death howl and I used to always contain the surging pain by gritting my teeth tight and tightening my lips because the death
wails should not reach the ears of my pregnant wife. But the officers who were clever enough to probe the very niche between the nail and finger did not fathom the reason for my being not wailing and crying in pain. By hanging me upside down and beating me they would ask me to see who was standing before me. The accelerating pain and suffering owing to the beating given and the very hanging upside down would make me giddy and render me go blind. I could not bring myself to see who it was. When I hear a muffled cry then I would perceive slowly that it was my pregnant wife Nalini who was standing before me.
Strike blows on me to what ever extent you like to give and kill me even if you wanted to, but please do send my wife away ! She could not bear to see me howling in pain and agony. The officers had liked my being wailing thus. They had continued to beat me in the presence of my wife and they had bent my fingers to the extreme while I howled and cried uncontrollably and similarly they would try to bend my fingers in unusual positions which made me blare in pain.
Then they would place stick, pencil and pen in between the fingers and press hard and try to crush them until they bled. They had also tortured Nalini by pressing hard and crushing her fingers in the same way. After strewing about small gravel pieces on the floor they would make me kneel down and force me to stretch my hands straight and parallel to the floor and they would keep me in knelt down position for hours together and the gravels in turn would pierce my knee and they would bleed profusely and I would feel as though my hands would snap from me. In the end the hands would go numb and then they would make me collapse a little from upright position and stretch my hands that is to say in a posture of one sitting on an armchair for hours together. Initially the positions and postures to which I was subjected to might appear like a piece of physical exercise but as time ticked on I would experience as though my tendon and nerves would snap and sometimes I used to fall down and while anticipating thus they would hit me hard.
Another police officer would like to enact the scenes of scuffle and fights portrayed in cinema. In doing so, he would force me to sit down on the floor and the officer would position himself snuggly on a swivel chair a little away from me. He would start posing question and when I had not answered it he would call me a dog and he would retort angrily that I was speaking false and by saying thus he would rotate the swivel chair along with himself and kick me hard many a time and at the end of having done so he would guffaw and laugh and put on airs as though he had accomplished something and then he would ask me to tell him as to how I had enjoyed the kicks and blows that he had wielded!
During the period of custody I was confined to an area of six feet of space on the floor and there was not enough space to turn my body. People used to resignedly say that what a man needed in the end was six feet of land and while being alive I had been confined to less than six feet of space on the floor. On three sides stood steel almirahs and on the forth side, there was placed a chair. For about 60 days I was destined to be in such a position! such a small space and such a horrible life!
The typical instance to indicate how we were tortured cruelly is to quote the plight and fate that befell Kodiyakarai Shanmugam. He was an industrialist who had voluntarily surrendered himself to police when they tried to hound him down. We were confined along with him from 14.6.91. Shanmugam was a very rich man. He was highly influential with politicians. He died mysteriously on 19.7.91. His sudden and mysterious death was widely spoken of in the media and many a suspicion had been raised against the police then.
Later, an Advocate Mr.Veerasekaran who had appeared on behalf of the family members of Shanmugam was indicted and charged under the provisions of TADA, he was arrested and put in jail. Since such was the fate that befell the rich industrialist Shanmugam and his lawyer Mr.Veerasekaran , after all, what would not befall on an ordinary man like myself who was considered to be a small worm.?
They came to get a confessional statement from me the day before the end of 60 days period in police custody. That was, after having beaten me to their utmost satisfaction , after having smashed and beaten me thus and made my bodily organs go numb and while keeping me only alive, at about 6.30 in the evening of 8.8.91, they came to fetch me so as to produce me before a police officer who wrote on a white paper whatever he liked imaginable. Then, without handing over the paper to me and without allowing me to see what ever was written there on, he had threatened and forced me to sign the statement. I could understand that he was writing in such a way that the contents as such would incriminate me. I had refused to sign and I was crying.
He roared at me and called me names; the invectives he used, the filthy words which he spoke against my wife and my mother which the very ears were to hear them would shy away.
After having been beaten up thus far, you had not changed a whit….. You would see how I would take your signature! Saying so, he bid the officers to take me away and be lodged in a solitary cell. Again I was brought away so as to appear before him at about 8 o’clock in the evening. Before him was placed the mangled stick that was used in beating me before and beside it a new one was found placed. Along with the police officer was sitting another police officer who had been thrashing me mercilessly before. Their cruel look and posture told me what they had intended to unleash against me. The very refusal on my part to sign would result in a determined decision to murder me.
‘Sign on the paper… else you will die’ they roared at me morbidly. Was I to die I had kept myself alive after having been beaten by them? When I would see the face of my baby who was growing in the womb of my wife Nalini. How would I die before my baby was sent away from the cradle, from the prison? How could I tell them that I did not want to be killed before I saw the face of my baby? It dawned on me so clearly that were I to protract the signing of the paper then the misfortune and cruel fate which had befallen Shanmugam would befall me too!
I did not want to die before I saw the face of my heir and at the same time I could not find a way to avert the impending danger to my person and that was they would beat me to death in the end. The only way that I found to save my life was to close my eyes and sign on the fabricated statement. I signed the statement perceiving that some danger and peril was impending and the same was closing in on me. It was my misfortune that the statement which I had signed blindly before in order save myself was destined to take away my life in the end !
Wounds will not heal.