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Centre asks TN to send Vaiko papers
September 08, 2004 15:38 IST
A high-voltage trial that will decide the difference between abatement to terrorism and freedom of political belief will start here this week, following a direction from the Centre to the Tamil Nadu government to provide all the case records relating to Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader V Gopalaswamy alias Vaiko's detention under the tough Prevention of Terrorism Act.
Even as a specially designated court in Chennai last week turned down the Tamil Nadu government's request to withdraw POTA cases against Vaiko and eight other partymen, the central POTA review committee has asked the Tamil Nadu chief secretary to produce the papers relating to the case on September 10.
The POTA review committee had recommended that the case against Vaiko be withdrawn. Accordingly the Tamil Nadu public prosecutor had pleaded before the designated judge, L Rajendran, that the case be withdrawn.
However, on Friday, Rajendran said the order of the review committee was 'destitute of any valid materials, except the speech delivered by the accused at a public meeting on June 29, 2002'.
The whole episode has the makings of a showdown between the Centre and the state, and also between Chief Minister Jayalalithaa and the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance.
Jayalalithaa has repeatedly said that Vaiko lauds the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's terrorist activities whenever he delivers a speech and seeks support and sympathy for the banned organisation in India and abroad.
The state government's public prosecutor had argued that the Tamil Nadu government had 'rightly' charged Vaiko under the tough anti-terrorism law as there was a 'prima facie' case against him.
Earlier, the Tamil Nadu government had submitted material pertaining to the case to the POTA review committee in three bound volumes and in sealed covers, with replies praying that the complaints be dismissed.
The state also pleaded claim of privilege against disclosure of documents to the accused on the ground that the chargesheet in the case was yet to be filed.
Therefore, it may not be possible to furnish copies of the documents to the accused at this juncture as it would greatly prejudice the trial, it had added.
Vaiko's justification of the LTTE's violence in his speech on June 29, 2002, at Tirumangalam near the temple town of Madurai -- shortly after the enactment of POTA -- was not an outburst but a premeditated and calculated one to stimulate secessionist sentiments among Tamilians and to enhance the LTTE's support base in Tamil Nadu, the state government had said in its arguments.
Countering the allegations, Vaiko's counsel Ramasubramanyam told the review committee that the MDMK leader's support to the LTTE was on account of its sympathies for the Tamil cause and not due to its militant actions.
Delineating the history of the Dravidian movement and Indian politics vis-a-vis the Sri Lankan situation, he said it was only after the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 that the LTTE earned a bad name in India.
Before that even the government had supported the outfit, he said adding that Gandhi fell out with the LTTE only after the suicide of 13 of its cadres who were in Sri Lankan army custody when the Indian Peace Keeping Force was disarming militants in the island nation.
The counsel quoted a statement made by Vaiko in Parliament where he had said, 'I was a supporter of the LTTE yesterday, I'm a supporter today and will be a supporter tomorrow'.
But all this was his political view, the counsel said, and sought to know if Vaiko was not entitled to create a movement against the LTTE's inclusion in the list of outfits banned under POTA. That Vaiko is a supporter of the LTTE does not mean he supports its terrorist acts too, he said.
After hearing the arguments, the review committee had held in its April 8 report there was no prima facie case against Vaiko and others for the state government to proceed against them under the anti-terror law. The state government then directed withdrawal of the case in keeping with the Supreme Court order of August 13.
The next -- and possibly final -- chapter of the drama will now take place starting September 10 at the high-security Vigyan Bhavan complex in New Delhi.
More reports from Tamil Nadu
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