Over two weeks since the disappearance of Tamil Nadu-based social activist Mugilan, a number of political parties came together in Chennai on Saturday to demand he be found. Mugilan, has been missing since February 15.
What has added to the mystery is that Mugilan disappeared soon after he alleged in a press conference that senior police officers were involved in the May 22 shooting of 14 unarmed civilians during the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi. Activists who have called attention to his disappearance have alleged that this is not a coincidence.
Speaking at a protest meeting against the state, DMK Rajya Sabha MP TKS Elangovan said, “This is not one person's problem. It is a problem that has affected a group of protesters who point out the mistakes of the government. If Mugilan doesn’t return tomorrow or doesn’t return by March 4th as the government has assured the court, this protest will take many forms. It will give rise to a people’s movement.”
Human rights lawyer and activist Henri Tiphagne filed a habeas corpus petition in the Madras High Court shortly after Mugilan went missing. The court issued notices to the Commissioner of Police, Chennai and the Superintendents of Police of Kanchipuram and Villupuram districts based on the petition. According to the complaint petition, Mugilan was travelling from Egmore in Chennai to Madurai in the Nagercoil special train on the night of February 15, after he held a press meet in Chennai about the Sterlite shooting. His phone lost connectivity around 1: 45 am on February 16, alleges the petition.
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi chief Thol Thirumavazhavan who was also present at the protest said, “We are obliged to remind that the government and the police cannot be lax as they usually are. Special investigating teams must be formed to find him.”
Velmurugan of TVK reiterated that the parties were getting ready to take the protest to the next stage. “We suspect that Mugilan has been made to disappear deliberately. The Tamil Nadu government and the Madras High Court has the duty to and moral obligation to answer our question as to where he is,” he said at the meeting.
Human rights NGO Amnesty International also issued a statement, urging authorities to investigate Mugilan’s disappearance. Meanwhile a social media campaign has also been ongoing with the hashtag #WhereIsMugilan with demonstrations in USA and Australia.