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JUSTICE DENIED

KG Kannabiran 01 Dec 2003
For the past twelve years justice has been denied in the brutal case of the daylight massacre of eight Dalits in Tsundur village of Guntur district, AP, revealing yet another blot in our system’s ability to deal with mass crimes condoned by caste, gender and community-driven biases


Background
We recall the mayhem carried on in broad daylight in which eight Dalits were
brutally hacked to death in the Tsundur village of Guntur on August 6, 1991, and their dead bodies packed in gunny bags and thrown in nearby drain canals. There was much uproar and Dalits and Dalit democratic rights organisations agitated over the issue.
In this sensational case, the police ultimately charge-sheeted 219 persons (28 are no more) belonging mostly to the Reddy community under the SC&ST (Prevention of Atrocities ACT) and sec. 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC etc. by the end of the year. The prosecution proposed to examine 135 witnesses. However, the case has dragged on for the last 12 years due to the apathy of successive state governments compounded by the delay tactics of the accused in this massacre, which has no parallel in the recent history of Andhra Pradesh (AP).

Delay till July 2003
For two years the case could not reach the spl. sessions court under the SC&ST (PA) Act, Guntur, as eight accused had not been arrested by the police. Later, the case against the absconding accused was separated and the case of the remaining accused (about 200) was committed to the spl. court in 1993. In 1994, the case reached a stalemate as the accused raised an objection that the victims belonged to the Christian faith and hence there could be no charge under the SC & ST (PA) Act. The matter was then taken to the AP high court by the accused after the spl. judge held that the victims were Hindus. Later, a trial date was fixed for October 1994 but the government took no steps to ensure that it was held in Tsundur village as promised to the victims even though a school building in the village was remodelled and furnished with a budget of about Rs. 4 lakh to hold camp court. So, renewing their demand for the trial to be held in their village, Dalit witnesses in the case had refused to receive summons. Later, the judge decided to hold the case trial at Tsundur village itself. The case was further stalled by efforts of the accused challenging the choice of Tsundur as the location for the trial. The case was once again taken to the AP high court in 1994. However, in 1995 the AP high court remanded the issue to the trial court. Ultimately, in 1995 the trial judge decided to hold the trial at Guntur instead of Tsundur.

Spl. PPs appointment delayed
The Dalits made two requests: 1) The trial should be held at Tsundur. This they insisted on for the safety and security of witnesses. 2) They demanded the appointment of special public prosecutors. As the appointment of public prosecutors goes by political patronage, the Dalit community of Tsundur wanted special public prosecutors, whom they had confidence in, to be appointed.
It took five years for the appointment of special public prosecutors as demanded by the victims. In August 2000, the government issued a GG in that regard. The GO advocated for appointment as spl. PPs two human rights activists who could take steps to get the case appearance in the spl. court and get the case tried speedily. Nevertheless, the district civil and police administration has been indulging in creating all manner of hurdles to delay the trial process.

Camp court building not renovated
As for the provision of a camp court at Tsundur, the facts are as follows:
On 5.8.2003 the spl. public prosecutors filed a memorandum before the spl. judge to try the case in the camp court at Tsundur. The GO appointing them, they pointed out, made it clear that the trial should take place at Tsundur. Earlier, in 1997 as well, the AP high court had requested the government to provide protection to the trial court in Tsundur while holding camp court at Tsundur. Responding to this in writing, the SP, Guntur, assured the high court that they would provide bandobust at Tsundur. The same was communicated to the trial court by the high court in 1998.
On 2.9.2003 the spl. judge, Mr. N Balayogi addressed a letter to the district collector Mr. Ramakrishna Rao requesting that he make all necessary arrangements, including security arrangements, at Tsundur. However, since there was no response from the district collector even by 29.9.2003, the judge had no choice but to postpone the case. The building was not made ready by the administration even by the date of the next adjournment (31.10.2003) and the case was again postponed to 27.11.2003. However, there was no response from the district administration on this day though some steps had been taken to renovate the building. The case was again posted to 10.12.2003, which, incidentally, is International Human Rights Day. The collector thus, is responsible for about three months’ delay in trying the case.

Non co-operation by police to the spl. PPs
On their part, the police administration has been taking no interest in this case. In spite of repeated requests by the special PPs, the concerned police officials have so far not handed over the CD files of the Tsundur carnage cases to them. The case record runs into about 2000 pages, which takes months for the prosecutors to prepare for effective layering on behalf of the prosecution. It is also doubtful whether all the case files are in fact with the police. The inspector of police, Tsundur, told representatives of the Victims’ Association that it took great effort to trace just a fraction of the records.
The police were not prompt in filing the death certificate of one of the accused, who died a couple of months ago, though they were given one month’s time to do so. Thus, in an indirect way, they helped those who needed to delay the case trial.

12 year-old NBWs against eight accused still to be executed
The case against the following eight absconding accused has been pending with the committal court in the spl. mobile court, Guntur, for the last 12 years without being committed to the spl. court:
1) A119: Mr. Kondamadugula Venkatappa Reddy S/o Mr. Venkata Reddy, R/o Modukur,
2) A146: Mr. Kosana Ramakrishna Rao S/o Mr. Venkaiah @ Kirasanayilu Venkaiah, R/o Munnangivaripalem,
3) A151: Mr. Ikkurthi Venkateswarlu, S/o Mr. Subba Rao, R/o Munnagivaripalem,
4) A169: Mr. Gorrepati Krishna Reddy, S/o Mr. Rami Reddy, R/o Munnagivaripalem,
5) A170: Mr. Modugula Kotireddy, S/o Mr. Sambireddy, R/o Tsundur,
6) A176: Mr. Kosana Venkaiah @ Kirasanayilu Venkaiah, S/o Mr. Yedukondalu R/o Tsundur,
7) A184: Mr. Gorrepati Appireddy @ Babu, S/o Mr. Ramireddy, R/o Tsundur,
8) A188: Mr. Bontha Papireddy S/o Mr. Kotireddy, R/o Munnagivaripalem.
They are yet to be arrested even 12 years after the charge sheet was filed and NBWs have been pending against them for more than a decade. Even the inspector of police, Tsundur, could not tell us in which court the separated case was pending. Though some of the absconding accused are very much present in Tsundur and surrounding places, no efforts have been made to arrest them.
The Victims’ Association made efforts and traced the case to the spl. mobile court, Guntur. Though the magistrate has addressed several letters to the police authorities during these 12 years, the concerned police have not even been attending to the court on the adjournment dates.
If immediate steps are not taken to arrest the eight absconding accused and the case is not committed to the spl. sessions court immediately, the entire trial exercise will have to be undergone again for them. This results in the wastage of the precious time of the hon’ble spl. sessions judge. The police department would also be burdened with serving summons to all 125 witnesses again at public expense. The witnesses would lose their working days for a second time on attending the trial for a second time.
The right to speedy trial is a fundamental right and the provision of equal justice a constitutional obligation, and the State and its instruments have been brazenly violating the fundamental right of the Dalit community and have been guilty of the flagrant breach of their constitutional obligation to provide equal justice to the victims and their community.
The IGP (PCR cell) Mr. Mandanlal paid a visit to Guntur a month ago in relation to the Tsundur case. Displaying great discourtesy, he did not show any interest in meeting the spl. public prosecutor Mr. B Chandrasekhar who, on his invitation, visited the guesthouse where he was camping. He has not taken any steps to find the eight absconding accused, nor shown any interest in removing hurdles in the conduct of speedy trial.

Our demands
Regardless of the case being a sensational one that has been awaiting justice for 12 years, the attitude of the state government and the district civil and police administration is highly reprehensible. We feel that it is an intentional attitude assumed to help the culprits. The attitude is an outcome of a racist perception of the Dalits and their cause. It makes Dalits lose faith in the administration of justice even as they await it eagerly.
We demand that the chief minister Mr. Chandrababu Naidu take steps to remove all the hurdles in the way of the trial of the case on a war footing and take action against all the officials, however high their position may be, for showing apathy towards and causing delay in trying the case. We also demand the appointment of a committed special officer to oversee the prosecution and co-ordinate between the spl. public prosecutors, the district police and civil administration, and the state government.

KG KANNABIRAN
National President, PUCL
JALADI MOSES
President, TCVA
People’s Union for
Civil Liberties (PUCL)
128, Hanuman Temple Street, East
Maredupalli, Secunderabad- 500027
Phone: 27730632
Tsundur Carnage Victims’
Association (TCVA)
Ambedkar Nagar, Tsundur,
Guntur Dist. AP
(Phone: 08643-310453)
Hyderabad, 07.12.2003

Archived from Communalism Combat, December 2003. Year 10   No. 94, Investigation

JUSTICE DENIED

For the past twelve years justice has been denied in the brutal case of the daylight massacre of eight Dalits in Tsundur village of Guntur district, AP, revealing yet another blot in our system’s ability to deal with mass crimes condoned by caste, gender and community-driven biases


Background
We recall the mayhem carried on in broad daylight in which eight Dalits were
brutally hacked to death in the Tsundur village of Guntur on August 6, 1991, and their dead bodies packed in gunny bags and thrown in nearby drain canals. There was much uproar and Dalits and Dalit democratic rights organisations agitated over the issue.
In this sensational case, the police ultimately charge-sheeted 219 persons (28 are no more) belonging mostly to the Reddy community under the SC&ST (Prevention of Atrocities ACT) and sec. 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) of IPC etc. by the end of the year. The prosecution proposed to examine 135 witnesses. However, the case has dragged on for the last 12 years due to the apathy of successive state governments compounded by the delay tactics of the accused in this massacre, which has no parallel in the recent history of Andhra Pradesh (AP).

Delay till July 2003
For two years the case could not reach the spl. sessions court under the SC&ST (PA) Act, Guntur, as eight accused had not been arrested by the police. Later, the case against the absconding accused was separated and the case of the remaining accused (about 200) was committed to the spl. court in 1993. In 1994, the case reached a stalemate as the accused raised an objection that the victims belonged to the Christian faith and hence there could be no charge under the SC & ST (PA) Act. The matter was then taken to the AP high court by the accused after the spl. judge held that the victims were Hindus. Later, a trial date was fixed for October 1994 but the government took no steps to ensure that it was held in Tsundur village as promised to the victims even though a school building in the village was remodelled and furnished with a budget of about Rs. 4 lakh to hold camp court. So, renewing their demand for the trial to be held in their village, Dalit witnesses in the case had refused to receive summons. Later, the judge decided to hold the case trial at Tsundur village itself. The case was further stalled by efforts of the accused challenging the choice of Tsundur as the location for the trial. The case was once again taken to the AP high court in 1994. However, in 1995 the AP high court remanded the issue to the trial court. Ultimately, in 1995 the trial judge decided to hold the trial at Guntur instead of Tsundur.

Spl. PPs appointment delayed
The Dalits made two requests: 1) The trial should be held at Tsundur. This they insisted on for the safety and security of witnesses. 2) They demanded the appointment of special public prosecutors. As the appointment of public prosecutors goes by political patronage, the Dalit community of Tsundur wanted special public prosecutors, whom they had confidence in, to be appointed.
It took five years for the appointment of special public prosecutors as demanded by the victims. In August 2000, the government issued a GG in that regard. The GO advocated for appointment as spl. PPs two human rights activists who could take steps to get the case appearance in the spl. court and get the case tried speedily. Nevertheless, the district civil and police administration has been indulging in creating all manner of hurdles to delay the trial process.

Camp court building not renovated
As for the provision of a camp court at Tsundur, the facts are as follows:
On 5.8.2003 the spl. public prosecutors filed a memorandum before the spl. judge to try the case in the camp court at Tsundur. The GO appointing them, they pointed out, made it clear that the trial should take place at Tsundur. Earlier, in 1997 as well, the AP high court had requested the government to provide protection to the trial court in Tsundur while holding camp court at Tsundur. Responding to this in writing, the SP, Guntur, assured the high court that they would provide bandobust at Tsundur. The same was communicated to the trial court by the high court in 1998.
On 2.9.2003 the spl. judge, Mr. N Balayogi addressed a letter to the district collector Mr. Ramakrishna Rao requesting that he make all necessary arrangements, including security arrangements, at Tsundur. However, since there was no response from the district collector even by 29.9.2003, the judge had no choice but to postpone the case. The building was not made ready by the administration even by the date of the next adjournment (31.10.2003) and the case was again postponed to 27.11.2003. However, there was no response from the district administration on this day though some steps had been taken to renovate the building. The case was again posted to 10.12.2003, which, incidentally, is International Human Rights Day. The collector thus, is responsible for about three months’ delay in trying the case.

Non co-operation by police to the spl. PPs
On their part, the police administration has been taking no interest in this case. In spite of repeated requests by the special PPs, the concerned police officials have so far not handed over the CD files of the Tsundur carnage cases to them. The case record runs into about 2000 pages, which takes months for the prosecutors to prepare for effective layering on behalf of the prosecution. It is also doubtful whether all the case files are in fact with the police. The inspector of police, Tsundur, told representatives of the Victims’ Association that it took great effort to trace just a fraction of the records.
The police were not prompt in filing the death certificate of one of the accused, who died a couple of months ago, though they were given one month’s time to do so. Thus, in an indirect way, they helped those who needed to delay the case trial.

12 year-old NBWs against eight accused still to be executed
The case against the following eight absconding accused has been pending with the committal court in the spl. mobile court, Guntur, for the last 12 years without being committed to the spl. court:
1) A119: Mr. Kondamadugula Venkatappa Reddy S/o Mr. Venkata Reddy, R/o Modukur,
2) A146: Mr. Kosana Ramakrishna Rao S/o Mr. Venkaiah @ Kirasanayilu Venkaiah, R/o Munnangivaripalem,
3) A151: Mr. Ikkurthi Venkateswarlu, S/o Mr. Subba Rao, R/o Munnagivaripalem,
4) A169: Mr. Gorrepati Krishna Reddy, S/o Mr. Rami Reddy, R/o Munnagivaripalem,
5) A170: Mr. Modugula Kotireddy, S/o Mr. Sambireddy, R/o Tsundur,
6) A176: Mr. Kosana Venkaiah @ Kirasanayilu Venkaiah, S/o Mr. Yedukondalu R/o Tsundur,
7) A184: Mr. Gorrepati Appireddy @ Babu, S/o Mr. Ramireddy, R/o Tsundur,
8) A188: Mr. Bontha Papireddy S/o Mr. Kotireddy, R/o Munnagivaripalem.
They are yet to be arrested even 12 years after the charge sheet was filed and NBWs have been pending against them for more than a decade. Even the inspector of police, Tsundur, could not tell us in which court the separated case was pending. Though some of the absconding accused are very much present in Tsundur and surrounding places, no efforts have been made to arrest them.
The Victims’ Association made efforts and traced the case to the spl. mobile court, Guntur. Though the magistrate has addressed several letters to the police authorities during these 12 years, the concerned police have not even been attending to the court on the adjournment dates.
If immediate steps are not taken to arrest the eight absconding accused and the case is not committed to the spl. sessions court immediately, the entire trial exercise will have to be undergone again for them. This results in the wastage of the precious time of the hon’ble spl. sessions judge. The police department would also be burdened with serving summons to all 125 witnesses again at public expense. The witnesses would lose their working days for a second time on attending the trial for a second time.
The right to speedy trial is a fundamental right and the provision of equal justice a constitutional obligation, and the State and its instruments have been brazenly violating the fundamental right of the Dalit community and have been guilty of the flagrant breach of their constitutional obligation to provide equal justice to the victims and their community.
The IGP (PCR cell) Mr. Mandanlal paid a visit to Guntur a month ago in relation to the Tsundur case. Displaying great discourtesy, he did not show any interest in meeting the spl. public prosecutor Mr. B Chandrasekhar who, on his invitation, visited the guesthouse where he was camping. He has not taken any steps to find the eight absconding accused, nor shown any interest in removing hurdles in the conduct of speedy trial.

Our demands
Regardless of the case being a sensational one that has been awaiting justice for 12 years, the attitude of the state government and the district civil and police administration is highly reprehensible. We feel that it is an intentional attitude assumed to help the culprits. The attitude is an outcome of a racist perception of the Dalits and their cause. It makes Dalits lose faith in the administration of justice even as they await it eagerly.
We demand that the chief minister Mr. Chandrababu Naidu take steps to remove all the hurdles in the way of the trial of the case on a war footing and take action against all the officials, however high their position may be, for showing apathy towards and causing delay in trying the case. We also demand the appointment of a committed special officer to oversee the prosecution and co-ordinate between the spl. public prosecutors, the district police and civil administration, and the state government.

KG KANNABIRAN
National President, PUCL
JALADI MOSES
President, TCVA
People’s Union for
Civil Liberties (PUCL)
128, Hanuman Temple Street, East
Maredupalli, Secunderabad- 500027
Phone: 27730632
Tsundur Carnage Victims’
Association (TCVA)
Ambedkar Nagar, Tsundur,
Guntur Dist. AP
(Phone: 08643-310453)
Hyderabad, 07.12.2003

Archived from Communalism Combat, December 2003. Year 10   No. 94, Investigation

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