In November 2011, four Irular women were allegedly raped by three police officials of the Thirukovilur police station, while 11 other members of their family were tortured in police custody.

Representative image of women standing
news Crime Sunday, December 26, 2021 - 20:30

The State Human Rights Commission (SHRC), on Tuesday, December 21, took suo motu cognizance on the decade-old case in Tamil Nadu, where four Irular women were allegedly raped by three police officials of the Thirukovilur police station in Villupuram district. The Commission has ordered the state government to ensure the Director General of Police files a final report before a competent court. The DGP is also to pass the final order on the departmental action initiated against the accused cops in three months. The Tamil Nadu government has also been instructed to provide a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to each of the survivors. It is to be noted that the trial, in this case, has been pending for the last 10 years since the alleged sexual assault took place.

The Commission was responding to an article published in the Tamil daily, Dinamalar, on November 27, 2011. According to the Dinamalar article, the four women, who are family members, were allegedly raped at Thabovanam eucalyptus grove. On the day of the crime on November 22, 2011, three police officials detained the husband of one of the four survivors over allegations of theft. They reportedly physically assaulted him and dragged him as well as other men to the police station. Later that night, a few more policemen allegedly barged into their house, seized four cell phones, 10 sovereigns of gold, and Rs 2,000 cash. They then allegedly forced the women into the police jeep, took them to the grove and raped them. One of the women was pregnant at the time, one of the survivors recounted the experience to Hindustan Times

According to the SHRC order, minors (aged 12,10 and 8-years-old) were also picked up by the police. Four days after the incident, one of the survivors submitted a petition to the Additional Superintendent of Police, Thirukoilur, regarding the rape. However, despite her petition, the police response was full of missteps, the Commission order notes. 

According to the SHRC order, the report from the Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG), Villupuram range, was “bereft of particulars and findings.” Consequently, the ADGP, the Investigative Wing of the State Human Rights Commission, submitted a report in April 2013, which only admitted to the illegal detention of the women. The ADGP’s report claimed that the women had been medically examined and that no evidence of the rape had been found. 

The accused police, when appearing before the SHRC, had denied the rape and further claimed that the provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities Act had been invoked against them “to gain monetary benefit from the government.”

The State Human Rights Commission has ruled in the favour of the women survivors and the eleven members of their family who were detained that day. In its order, the Commission referred to judgments passed by the Madras High Court that have cited the prevalence of custodial violence and other forms of police excesses to guide its decision.