Factfinding (Citizens’ watch)

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Independent civil society investigations into incidents of human rights violations has been a long-term favourite tool of civil society to draw attention to issues of omission and commission by the state mechanisms.

The main issues around which civil society investigations are conducted are untouchability, caste and gender based discrimination and violence against women and Dalit panchayat presidents. In addition to legal gaps and administrative lapses, these investigations also highlight the social context, complicity of the state machinery and acquiescence of the silent majority.

The research reports on the untouchability and caste discrimination faced by presidents in panchayat administration especially women and dalit presidents were compiled and published as a book in 2013.

On 05 April 2001, an investigation was conducted into the brutal workplace killing of Menaka, the Urapakkam Panchayat Board President, Kanchipuram District. After the investigation, we requested action to be taken in this regard. The condemnation report regarding the brutal killing was disseminated to the mass media by the District organizers and General Secretary in their respective districts. Then the main accused were arrested and cases filed against them. Further, the federation is involved in getting justice for the women presidents who are subjected to violence.

During June 2011, Mrs. Krishnaveni, a Dalit women president of Thalaiyoothu panchayat of Tirunelveli district was assaulted by dominant casteists. A fact finding team was set up on behalf of the federation and the resulting report was shared during the press meet in Madurai.

Independent investigations were conducted regarding the Panchayat Presidents who were victims of gender and caste based discrimination and those who continually face it. Caste related challenges faced by men and women Dalit Panchayat presidents from Madhurandhagam and Accharapakkam in Kanchipuram District, caste and gender related challenges faced the ThimmavaramPanchayat President were investigated and a report was submitted to the government.

The continuous death threats, infringement in work and illegal activities against Melamaiyur Panchayat President (Kattankulatthur Union, Kanchipuram District) Mrs. Mangalamkutty by her opposition and the fact finding investigation related to the slaying of her husband Mr. Kutty on 27 May 2002 was undertaken by the federation on her request. The report was published on behalf of TNFWPPG and was sent to the respective officials for further action.

An investigation was carried out related to the murder of Mr. Sakkaiyan, Nakkalanmutthanpatti Panchayat, Kuruvikulam Union, Mr. Servaran, Marudhankinaru Panchayat, Kuruvikulam Union. They were panchayat presidents belonging to the depressed classes. They were against the caste discrimination and the repression of the dominant castes in the Panchayat administration. The report highlighted the challenges faced by Dalit presidents in Tamilnadu. Due to the report being submitted to the state government, the Tirunelveli District Collector conducted a meeting with all the District Panchayat Presidents and preparations were made for proper investigation. The government announced that such actions would be carried out in all the districts.

A fact finding team was set up on behalf of the federation to investigate the caste discrimination faced by Kalaimani, Karukkakurichi North street Panchayat, Pudukottai District and the report was published in the press. It was also sent to the related government officials.

A fact finding team was formed and investigation was conducted on behalf of the federation regarding the encroachment of public land belonging to the panchayats of Meiyyurkuppam, Kanchipuram district and Veeraganallur, Thiruvallur district. Investigations on behalf of the federation were conducted regarding the gender based discrimination faced by a women president due to the panchayat members and government officials in Iranyasitthi panchayat, Kanchipuram and caste based discrimination faced by dalit leaders in Periyamedupanchayat, Kanchipuram.

The patta (title) for the lands given to the Irular (indigenous people) in early 2000s in Vellapudur panchayat, Acchirupaakkam Union, Kanchipuram district was not yet provided. A fact finding team was constituted by the federation which investigated the issue.

An investigation on caste discrimination faced by a panchayat president as he had removed the enchrochments on the path to the Dalit area in Vanjinipatti Panchayat, Sivagangi District was conducted on 26 and 27 July 2016,

An investigation was conducted on 24 October 2016 of Thangaraj murder on 14 October 2016 at Thiruvallur district Melmanabedu panchayat president.

An investigation was conducted on caste discrimination on Mayanmar village at Villupuram district on 4 February 2017.