To: Chief Secretary, Government of Tamil Nadu
IG Police, North Zone, Tamil Nadu
Commissioner of Police, Chennai
Superintendent of Police, Kanchipuram and Villupuram
23 February, 2019
Respected Madam and Sirs:
We are writing to urge you to ensure the safe return of Mr. Mugilan, an environmental rights activist who went missing at around midnight on 15 February. His disappearance barely half-a-day after highlighting the alleged role of senior police officers in the killings of 14 persons in a police action against anti-Sterlite protestors in Thoothukudi last May is deeply disturbing.
Mugilan has been an articulate and outspoken activist advocating against sand mining, the dangers of nuclear power and industrial pollution.
His abrupt disappearance and the silence of the Government of Tamil Nadu raise grave concerns about the state of civil liberties and human rights in Tamil Nadu, a state with a civil administration that once prided itself in being a cut above the rest.
We, the below-signed, express our deep concern and anxiety over Mugilan’s safety. We hope that the Government of Tamil Nadu and the state Police will work speedily to ensure his safe return to his family.
Mr. Mugilan addressed a press meet in Chennai on February 15, 2019 at around 11.30 AM regarding claims by the state that the killing of 14 persons by police firing on May 22, 2018, during an anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi was prompted by arson and rioting by a section of the protestors. During the press meet he released a report and video titled ‘Sterlite: Hidden Truth’, which presented publicly available CCTV and TV footage to highlight how the the police acting in collusion with the management of Sterlite Copper orchestrated the violence that was then used as an excuse to fire and kill protestors.
Mr. Mugilan also named senior police officers implicating them in the events that led to the violence and killings.
He was last seen by a few of his friends at Egmore Railway Station in Chennai.
This is not the first time that Mr. Mugilan has been a target of attack by the State apparatus. He, along with numerous others, have been falsely accused and accused in several cases of sedition for their role in the non-violent civil disobedience struggle against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant in Tirunelveli. In 2012 when the protests against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant was at its peak, he was similarly abducted by the police on his way back from his home town and illegally detained for three days before being remanded to judicial custody in response to civil society pressure.
As we stand on the brink of climate catastrophe, people such as Mugilan who are advocating against environmentally degrading projects should be seen as voices of reason and wisdom, rather than harassed as if they were criminals.
Justice D. Hariparanthaman, (Retd), Madras High Court, Chennai
Yogendra Yadav, President, Swaraj Party, New Delhi
Prashant Bhushan, Advocate, New Delhi
M.G. Devasahayam, I.A.S (Retd)
Fatima, Anti Sterlite People’s Movement, Thoothukudi
Kalpana Kannabiran, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad
R. Vaigai, Advocate, Chennai
Henri Tiphagne, People’s Watch, Madurai
Maj. Gen. S.G. Vombatkere (Retd)
V. Geetha, Writer, Chennai
Claude Alvares, Goa Foundation
K. Kalpana, Academic, Chennai
Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements
Madhuresh Kumar, National Alliance of People’s Movements
Jayaram Venkatesan, Arappor Iyakkam, Chennai
Nityanand Jayaraman, writer/social activist, Chennai
Avik Saha, General Secretary, AIKSCC, Chennai
Arundhati Dhuru, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Lucknow
Sandeep Pandey, ASHA for Education, Lucknow
Suhas Kolhekar, NAPM Maharashtra
Ashish Kothari, Kalpavriksh, Pune
Basant Hetamsaria, Jharkhand
Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM
Amit Sengupta, Journalist, New Delhi