In November 2011, four women from Irular were reportedly raped by three policemen from the Thirukovilur police station, while 11 other members of their family were reportedly tortured in police custody.
The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), Tuesday, December 21, learned suo motu of the ten-year-old case in Tamil Nadu, where four women from Irular were allegedly raped by three police officers from Thirukovilur Police Station in Villupuram District. The Commission ordered the state government to ensure that the Director General of Police submits a final report to a competent court. The DGP must also make the final decree on the departmental action taken against the cops implicated in three months. The government of Tamil Nadu was also tasked with providing compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of the survivors. It should be noted that the trial in this case is for the past 10 years since the alleged sexual assault took place.
The Commission was responding to an article published in the Tamil daily Dinamalar on November 27, 2011. According to the Dinamalar article, the four women, who are family members, were allegedly raped in the eucalyptus grove of Thabovanam. On the day of the crime, November 22, 2011, three police officers arrested the husband of one of the four survivors on allegations of theft. They allegedly physically assaulted him and dragged him and other men to the police station. Later that night, a few other police officers reportedly broke into their home, seizing four cell phones, 10 gold rulers and Rs 2,000 in cash. They then allegedly forced the women into the police jeep, took them to the grove and raped them. One of the women was pregnant at the time, one of the survivors told the Hindustan Times about the experience.
According to the SHRC order, minors (aged 12, 10 and 8) were also arrested by the police. Four days after the incident, one of the survivors made a petition to Additional Police Superintendent Thirukoilur regarding the rape. However, despite his petition, the police response was fraught with missteps, the commission order notes.
According to the SHRC order, the report of the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Villupuram channel, was “devoid of details and conclusions.” Therefore, the ADGP, the investigative wing of the National Human Rights Commission, submitted a report in April 2013, which only admitted the illegal detention of women. The ADGP report claimed the women had been medically examined and no evidence of rape had been found.
The accused police, during their appearance before the SHRC, denied the rape and further claimed that the provisions of the Atrocity Prevention Act had been invoked against them “to gain financial advantage from the government”.
The National Human Rights Commission ruled in favor of the surviving women and the eleven family members who were detained that day. In its order, the Commission referred to judgments issued by the Madras High Court which cited the prevalence of violence in detention and other forms of police excesses to guide its decision.