India: NGO staff, community-based defenders arrested and beaten for staging hunger strikeEvent
- Initial Date
- Sep 20, 2020
- Event Description
The members of Makkal Pathai, a not-for-profit organisation based out of Chennai, have been on a hunger protest against National Eligibility cum Entrance Examination (NEET) in their offices in Chennai over the past week. On Sunday, the seventh-day of protest in Chennai, the members were forcefully dragged away by the police. Members also allege that the police misbehaved with them. Koyambedu police have lodged about 30 members at a kalyana mandapam while six who were on the hunger-protest have been admitted to Kilpauk Medical College (KMC). No case has been registered.
Visuals shared on Makkal Pathai’s Facebook page shows police forcefully entering into the office premises following which members are dragged out. They can be heard condemning police brutality.
Sharing voice notes from KMC where about six of them are currently kep, member Chandra Mohan (41) says, “We have been continuing our hunger protest for six days. They have hit us and admitted here at KMC. Women’s clothes were lifted, they were shamed, we were shamed and we have been brought here. We condemn this brutality.”
In an audio note, Chandra Mohan says the members have rejected IV fluids and are still fasting in the hospital. "We gave our word to the people. We will continue our fasting until they tell us." He further alleges that the police have ransacked their office in Chennai taking away phones and computers.
Speaking to TNM, Koyambedu police station Inspector K Madeswaran says no complaint has been filed on the members but their protest had to be stopped since it was a health risk. “We have been asking them every day to stop their hunger protest. Moreover, groups of people gather there on a regular basis. Press is invited and this crowding of people is a risk especially due to the pandemic,” he tells TNM.
“We have not registered any case against them yet because they are giving us their details. They are requesting for the Chief Minister to come down in person to listen to their demands and scrap NEET,” he adds.
When asked about allegations of women being harassed the officer says, “We only tried to end their fasting. Even though they have not eaten in six-days, they put up a good resistance.”
Vignesh, the coordinator from Coimbatore says, “We are holding a one-day fasting protest here in Coimbatore office. Police have arrested our members who were holding hunger-protest for six continuous days in Chennai. We condemn this.”
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Other (e.g. undefined, organisation, community)
- (Arbitrary) Arrest and Detention
- Judicial Harassment
- Violence (physical)
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of association
- Right to healthy and safe environment
- Right to liberty and security
- Community-based HRD
- NGO staff
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 20 September 2020, staff of the NGO Makkal Pathai and other community-based defenders, including WHRDs, were beaten and arbitrarily arrested and the office of the NGO raided by the police, for staging a peaceful hunger strike in Chennai, India.