‘Savukku Shankar’s condition critical’: Prisoners Rights Forum writes to CM Stalin

The whistleblower YouTuber, who is also a former employee at the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, has been on a hunger strike since September 30 to protest a one-month ban on visitation rights.
Well-known whistleblower and YouTuber 'Savukku' Shankar
Well-known whistleblower and YouTuber 'Savukku' Shankar
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Advocate Pugalenthi, director of the Prisoners Rights Forum, has written to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin stating that the health of well-known YouTuber and whistle-blower ‘Savukku’ Shankar was in “critical condition” three days into his hunger strike in jail. Seeking Stalin’s immediate intervention in the matter, Pugalenthi, who is also Shankar’s lawyer, said in the letter dated October 2 that “today, on Gandhi Jayanthi, you [the Chief Minister] will be aware that it is a better deed to restore the fundamental rights of a person protesting in a non-violent manner, than to garland the statue of Gandhi.” Shankar began his hunger strike on Friday, September 30, after prison authorities revoked his visitation rights for a month because he tore up a notice from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC), dismissing him from service, on September 24. The YouTuber is currently serving a six-month sentence after the Madras High Court found him guilty of contempt of court for his remarks against the judiciary.

In his letter to the CM, advocate Pugalenthi also highlighted Shankar’s demands. Apart from revoking the ban on his visitation rights, the YouTuber also asked that he be transferred to the Puzhal jail in Chennai as “he fears for his life at” the Cuddalore Central Prison, where he is currently lodged. “The ban on his visitation rights goes against natural justice. Prison officials have imposed this ban without following prison laws and rules. Due to the ban, friends, relatives and legal experts have not been able to meet Shankar and neither has it been possible to discuss the appeal in the Supreme Court against his sentence,” the advocate said in the letter.

On September 15, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court had sentenced Shankar to six months in prison in a contempt case lodged against him, owing to his statement that “the entire higher judiciary is riddled with corruption” on his YouTube channel. He was first lodged in the Madurai Central Prison, and later shifted to the Cuddalore prison citing security reasons. 

Shankar was suspended from the DVAC in 2008 for allegedly leaking secret phone conversations of two higher officials of the organisation. He had legally challenged the DVAC's decision to suspend him and was on subsistence allowance. Following his sentencing in the contempt case, however, Shankar was dismissed from his clerical position in the DVAC on September 24. 

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