Saturday, Nov 16, 2002
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By S. Vijay Kumar
``I was treated like an ordinary criminal and not given the basic facilities which are accorded to political prisoners. I was locked up from dusk to dawn with unusable toilets,'' a visibly frail Mr. Palanivel Rajan told The Hindu in a private hospital today.
There were hardly six toilets without doors catering for about 150 prisoners. ``Despite my being eligible, as an advocate and former MLA, for special class treatment, the jail authorities did not oblige,'' he said adding Al-Umma militants were lodged in the newly-built complex, which had attached toilet facilities.
Mr. Palanivel Rajan, who underwent an operation for removal of prostate, said his bladder had swollen, weakening its muscular activity. ``I went to the jail on four occasions but was never put in the lock-up as it happened recently,'' he said.
Mr. Palanivel Rajan and 101 other party cadres, including the Mayor, C. Ramachandran, and the former Minister, T. Kiruttinan, were arrested and remanded in connection with the Sellur incident. ``They have registered an `attempt to murder' case against me, but my name (nature of offence) or presence at the meeting does not figure in the FIR, though I am the prime accused.''
Recalling the Sellur incident, he said the police should not have given permission for two political parties to organise community feeding, for weavers, who faced starvation following a glut in stocks in close proximity.
``Police action is more a serious violation of human rights than the ill-treatment meted out to us in the prison. Mr. Kiruttinan has sent a petition to the National Human Rights Commission against the police,'' Mr. Palanivel Rajan said.
`Very much in party'
Asked whether he continued to be an active member of the DMK, as there were reports recently that he was planning to quit the party, he replied in the affirmative and said he was the chairman of the DMK's legal wing.
``The way this Government is functioning, it will be an easy win for the DMK in the next elections.''
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