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Mugilan, a TamilNadu based environmental and civil rights activist disappeared on Feburary 15, 2019, after releasing explosive video evidence that implicated the Vedanta’s Sterlite Corporation in the killing of 13 people including a minor girl,Snowlin. That night, when he was supposed to board a train from Chennai Egmore railway station to Madurai, he went missing. A case was filed in the Chennai Egmore railway station. After preliminary enquiry the case was handed over to the CBI.

Meanwhile, his family and close circle accused that he has been kidnapped. A Habeauscorpus was filed by Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director of People’s Watch. A series of social media campaigns and protests happened in Tamil Nadu demanding a proper investigation to bring back Mugilan. The TamilNadu government went to the extent of filing a case on Thirumurugan Gandhi, coordinator of May 17 Movement, for speaking in a protest demanding the government to conduct proper investigation. Amnesty International also released a statement demanding investigation on his disappearance.The state was unconcerned as usual.For nearly 6 months CBCID had been conducting investigations and Mugilan was not found.

On July 6, 2019, the police announced that they have picked upMugilan, in Thirupathi railway station. In the video evidences that appeared later, battered Mugilan was sitting in a railway track shouting slogans against Sterlite and the proposed nuclear waste management plant in Koodankulam. Later that night, he was handed over to the Tamilnadu police. He was not allowed to address the media about his disappearance. When the police was escorting him, he informed the gathered media who were quizzing him about what happened to him, that he was kidnapped.

The next day morning he was handed over to the CBCID. During the investigation Mugilan refused to divulge any information about his kidnapping. He demanded to be produced in the court. Inspite of this the investigation continued till evening.

On July 7th, the CBCID announced that Mugilan has been arrested for another case that was filed in his absence, based on a complaint by a woman who accused Mugilan of cheating her. He was booked under IPC 417 (Cheating) and IPC 376 (Rape). Both these IPC sections contradict each other in a way. But the police nevertheless filed the case.

Few activists were allowed to meet Mugilan, when he was kept in the CBCID complex. One of the activists informed the press that Mugilan was “in a very disturbed state of mind. His health condition has deteriorated. He has injury from dog bites. His heart condition also has worsened”.

The police have till now not officially informed the public about what happened to Mugilan for the past 6 months. They have not even produced him in front of the magistrate for the Habeaus Corpus case. Instead they filed a report, that Mugilan has been found and arrested for other charges against him. By doing this, Mugilan has been denied the legal opportunity to reveal what happened to him.

During one of his appearance to the court, Mugilan confirmed that he was kidnapped, kept blind folded and once negotiated to not to get involved in the Sterlite issue any more in exchange for a life abroad.  But no arrests have been made with regard to his kidnapping.

Neither were the video evidences he released against Sterlite nor was his disappearance debated much in the Media. Rather it’s the rape charge against him that had the attention. The right wing forces in TamilNadu were quick to capitalize on the rape charge. Social media was filled with hate venom against Mugilan, an uncompromising activist who has played key roles from the Koodankulam anti-nuclear struggle to the Sterlite struggle.

It’s not uncommon for the state machinery to defame activists raising genuine pro-people demands. We have examples ranging from activists like Udhayakumar accused of getting foreign funds for their struggle, to internationally known figures like Jullian Assange who was accused for rape and then later acquitted.

The documentary, “Arsonists! Sterlite-The hidden truths”, which Mugilan released hours before he was kidnapped is yet to be debated widely. Putting together video clippings from various sources, Mugilan said the ‘shooting was well planned’ and accused the police for orchestrating it. It’s over a year since the Anti-Sterlite massacre, and still the Justice Awaits for the 13 innocents who were killed.

Tamilarasan, May 17 movement


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