India: Writer detained over attempted murder charges

durai guna india
Dalit writer Durai Guna and activist friend Bhoopathy Karthikeyan were arrested on 10 June 2016 for attempted murder during the Chennai Book Fair, though those close to the writer and human rights activists claim the charges are false and are a continuation of harassment Guna has suffered for works he’s published on Dalit issues, reported Scroll.in on 11 June 2016 and The Hindu on 15 June 2016.

Police say the two were arrested after a complaint was filed by a Mr. Sivanandham who claimed the two stabbed him over a monetary dispute. However, Sivanandham denies ever having made such a complaint and is being used by the police.

Guna’s wife Kokila further told Scroll.in that her husband was “never involved in any monetary dispute and we have never heard of this person”.

Human Rights Defenders Alert-India’s national secretary Henri Tiphagne said the organisation has appealed to the National Human Rights Commission to initiate an independent investigation as police have filed “false complaints to take a revenge on the human rights work of the activists”.

Guna and his friend were granted bail on 16 June 2016, but both remained in detention for the original 15 days as they are facing prosecution on another case stemming from 2015 wherein the two, along with four others, allegedly assaulted another person, reported The Hindu on 17 June 2016.

Further, in late June 2016, the Madras High Court heard a third case filed by the duo who claim they were attacked by police while in custody, reported The Times of India on 23 June 2016.


Speaking up about Dalit issues
Guna first faced troubles when he published a novella in 2014 about a Dalit agricultural labourer and the reality he suffers in his station of society.

When the work was published Guna was forced to leave his village, his family was ostracised and when he returned two years later he was severely beaten up, even though the Madras High Court ordered police to provide protection.

Kokila said the current harassment is “clearly an attempt to settle scores” with her husband.

“The book was published in 2014 and since then, he has constantly been facing problems,” Kokila said. “The local police station has been very hostile throughout and they were waiting for an opportunity to get back at him for writing the novel.”

Dalit is a term that refers to people who fall outside India’s caste system and are known as “untouchables”. As such, Dalits form the lowest rank of Indian society and face constant discriminatio. Dalits form approximately 16 percent of India’s population.


Photo from writer’s Facebook page


Sources

» The Times of India – 23 June 2016:
Guna case: Records sought from magistrate court

» The Hindu – 17 June 2016:
Bail granted to writer Durai Guna

» The Hindu – 15 June 2016:
NHRC urged to probe Durai Guna’s arrest

» Scroll.in – 11 June 2016:
Arrest of Dali writer Durai Guna a ploy to punish him for his anti-caste message, activists claim

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