13 Years of Ordeal: A Mother Fights for Justice in a False Encounter Case

by Shreshta B, Joel Rex & Mowmittha K

Guruvammal and her house

During their internship in People’s Watch, they read about Guruvammal’s encounter cases on the People’s Watch website and got documents of fact-finding reports. They all read through the report that developed their curiosity to interact and get details from her. On 7th of December 2023, they met the family of the victim. On 8th of December 2023, they watched the representation of Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director of People’s Watch in Guruvammal’s case which was heard in Madras Bench Madurai High Court through online streaming of the proceedings.

This takes back to 2010, to the case of Kallumandayan encounter killing, which is a terrific and shocking case where the Police authorities have made an encounter and thereby killed 2 people namely Kallumandayan alias Murugan and Kaviyarasu. The complaint had been filed by Guruvammal, mother of Murugan, and Seethalakshmi, mother of Kaviyarasu, in February 2010.[1]

Kallumandyan alias Murugan, son of Guruvammal and late Arumugam, had been repeatedly arrested by the Police authorities in the name of theft allegations and hence put inside bars. On 13th of February 2010, Police officers from the Theppakulam police station knocked on the door of Dhanalakshmi’s house, the daughter of Guruvammal. After Guruvammal opened the door, they had asked her to reveal the place where Murugan had absconded, after when Guruvammal and Dhanalakshmi were beaten with the lathi by the Police. Subsequently, they were taken in a car where Arulanandham, son-in-law of Guruvammal, was already there. Then, they made it to other relatives’ houses and boarded one by one to the car, asking each of them where Murugan was. At last, Raaku, Murugan’s cousin, informed that Murugan had gone out just a few minutes back. The police claimed that they had received news about extortion happening at Thimmapuram, a place near Puliyankulam, and hence had rushed to the spot. Hence the Police took them to various authorities and places where Murugan was said to be. This continued for another day. Subsequently, Guruvammal was dropped back at her place in Madurai after the police arrested her son Murugan. On 16th of February 2010, Murugan was shot dead by the Police in the name of an “encounter” at the outskirts of Madurai and his corpse was taken to the Government Hospital. Also, Guruvammal had been beaten up brutally and was being tortured by the Police, where they had insisted her to revoke the complaint filed against the Police officers who had shot Murugan.

During the process, the police had visited each of the relatives’ houses and had threatened them to reveal the place of stay of Murugan. They threatened them stating that if they did not reveal the information, their lives would be in danger. When everybody stood clueless, the police officials had taken them to the office of the Assistant Commissioner (AC) and had beaten them up brutally with the lathis in their hands. When they finally revealed that Murugan was in Thimmapuram, the police had gone to another relative, named Raaku, and tortured her for confirmation. When she said the place, they left them to their homes and on the 16th of February, when Murugan and Kaviyarasu were riding on a bike near Theppakulam check post, two Police officers namely Thennarasu and Ganesan had stopped them. The victims, the media claim, had tried to attack the police with sickles, and the Assistant Commissioner Vellathurai from the OCU police station, had rushed immediately to the spot and, as a consequence of self-defense, had shot the two people dead.

Subsequently, Guruvammal made a complaint on 18th of February 2010 with reference to the aforementioned incident to the National Human Right Commission, the commission transferred the case to the State Human Rights Commission of Tamil Nadu.[2] A case, when filed in front of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High court, on its Judgement delivered on 17th of September 2018, it was found out that the First Information Report (FIR) had been filed before the Revenue Divisional Officer (RDO) and not before the judicial Magistrate. Hence, it was ruled that the FIR has been wrongly filed. Also, the court concluded that an inquest be conducted by the independent authority as distinct from the investigation agency.

When the case was brought to the court of Judicial Magistrate of Madurai, against the theft case on the two victims, the court ordered that the two victims are not guilty of any crime and are innocent on its order dated 5th of April 2014.[3]

When this case was taken to the National Human Rights Commission, the commission observed in its order dated 4th of September 2020 that simple cases of natural death in custody may be enquired by an executive Magistrate if there is no reasonable suspicion of foul play or well-founded allegation of commission of an offence.

The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) examined the case and expressed serious concerns in the encounter of two people by Police officer S Velladurai on its order dated 21st of October 2022. The commission slammed the cops for illegal encounter killings and directed the Chief Secretary to provide Ms. Guruvammal and the Ms. Seethalakshmi, a compensation of Rs. 3 Lakhs and to recover it from Velladurai and other personnel.[4]

On the last hearing on 8th of December 2023, the Madurai bench of the Madras High court ordered that the Police officers involved in the encounter should also be brought into trial.

In his cross examination at the SHRC, the court, the case on 28th of August, 2023, before the judge the respondents i.e., the police officials and other persons, gave testimonies based on the aforesaid facts of the case. The Assistant commissioner confessed that he had done 4 encounters so far. The Superintendent of Police of Tiruvannamalai District, thus, filed a writ petition requesting the Hon’ble Court to stay the proceedings of the State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), case number 1144, and therefore render Justice.[5]  

The Central Bureau of Investigation handled this case under crime number 09/2017, investigation under IPC sections 332, 324, 307 and Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) 174 where it, after analysis all the facts of the case, subsequently stated that it has been proved that the firing had been obviously for self-defense of the Police officers from the two victims Kallumandyan and Kaviyarasu. The CBI, therefore, has stated that there is no need for any action to be taken against the Police officers and no proceedings are needed against the victims since they’re dead.[6]

Though the SHRC ordered a compensation of Rs 3 Lakhs for her, had not received any compensation yet, and People’s Watch is undertaking steps in order to urge the Government and the relevant authorities to provide the compensation she deserved. The SHRC noted that the two history-sheeters were only property offenders and not individuals who were involved in violent crimes. Taking into account the post-mortem report, which showed that there was an entry and exit wound of the bullet, the SHRC observed that it indicated that the bullet was fired at point blank range and the aim of the police was only to kill the history-sheeters. Which was completely unacceptable.

Human rights organization People’s Watch also field a writ – petition,[7] seeking the concerned authority to register a First Information Report (FIR) against the Police Personnel, and asked for a proper CB-CID investigation into the case and finally ensure Justice. The case came up before Madurai High court on 8th December 2023 and on 15 December 2023, currently, the case has been posted to First week on January.

Experience on our visit to Guruvammal’s House:

 After reaching Guruvammal’s house, we were asked to sit on a stone, but the old woman kept standing because of her weak knees, which were not of much use to her.  She welcomed everyone with a smile and was open to answering every question posed to her. She told us about how she and some of her relatives were tortured to reveal the location of her son, Murugan alias Kallumandaiyan. She lamented saying, “The police attacked us with wooden logs, verbally abused me and my family, and also threatened us that we would be arrested for dealing with marihuana”. She also told us about how the policemen killed her son, and how they took on a defense saying that Murugan and his partner Kaviyarasu attacked the policemen on a check post near Teppakulam, resulting in their encounter with the Assistant Commissioner of Police Velladurai and his team. It’s been thirteen years, but we could see that she was still sad and angry upon the death of her son.

At one instance, she was overcome with emotion and went behind the cowshed where there was a tiny room from where she came back with a framed photo of her son. She tried to keep us comfortable and asked us if we wanted to drink something now and then.

Now more on the place she is living in, it was more of a wasteland than a cowshed, at a small hut-like residence in Mullai Nagar, Madurai. It is not a suitable place to live. It is situated on the banks of a sewage with flies and mosquitos around the garbage below the place she lives. That place did not have enough light, which would make a person gloomy at times. She also complained about having no money and that she survives using the small amount of money she earns now and then. Her entire livelihood is based on a cow and a calf she raises. The cow’s health was similar to that of Guruvammal: skinny and weak.

It’s been thirteen years and still, Guruvammal didn’t get the justice she deserves. The accused still roams free after giving years of trauma to the woman and her family.

After meeting Guruvammal, we came to the conclusion that the judiciary in our country operates at a very slow pace, and only strong-willed individuals like Guruvammal can attain the justice they seek which also cannot be guaranteed even after 13 years.

[1] CSR no 102/10, Theppakulam Police station

[2] NHRC Case No 41663/24/26/08-09-JCD

[3] Crime number : 174/10, OCU police station Madurai.

[4] SHRC case No 1144, 1451 and 2154 of 2010. The SHRC observed that both the complainants are entitled to get a compensation of Rs. 3 Lakhs since she suffered physical agony due to the custodial torture she had been subjected to and mental agony due to the unreasonable death of her son Murugan. It reasoned that they (Guruvammal and Seethalakshmi) deserved such compensation for their physical and mental injuries they had suffered as a result of the custodial death of their sons, namely Kallumandyan and Kaviyarasu, in its order dated 21st of October 2022, case number 1144,  1451 and 2154 of 2010.


[6] On CBI order dated February 28,2019.

[7] Writ petition no. 1896 of 2010 – Feb 18 2010

Shreshta B, Tamil Nadu National Law University, 1st year B.Com LLB (Hons).

Joel Rex, Tamil Nadu National Law University, 1st year B.A. LLB (Hons).

Mowmittha K, Tamil Nadu National Law University, 1st year B.Com LLB (Hons).

They are students from Tamil Nadu National Law University interning at People’s Watch, studying in the first year of a five-year law program.

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