URGENT ACTION: Thoothukudi Protestors being held in administration detention
Five protesters have been held under administrative detention since 10 June after participating in protests demanding the closure of a copper plant in southern India. Under the repressive National Security Act (NSA), people can be detained for up to 12 months on loosely defined grounds of maintenance of public order. The NSA has been used to target protesters and human rights defenders in India.
Kaliloor Rahuman, along with his adult sons Mohamad Anas and Mohamad Irasath, and two others, Kottaiyan and Velmurugan (also known as Murugan), have been held in administrative detention under the National Security Act (NSA) since 10 June 2018. They are currently being held in Thoothukudi District Jail in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India.
On 22 May, the 100th day of the protests by local communities in Thoothukudi demanding the closure of the Sterlite copper plant over health and environmental concerns, the police used excessive force on the protesters. The police opened fire on thousands of largely peaceful protesters. 13 people were killed and hundreds were injured.
Kaliloor Rahuman, Mohamad Anas, Mohamad Irasath and Kottaiyan were arrested on 26 May 2018 and Velmurugan was arrested on 27 May 2018. They were arrested on allegations including unlawful assembly, rioting and assaulting or using criminal force to deter a public servant from discharging his duty under the Indian Penal Code, and ‘committing mischief in respect of property’ under the Tamil Nadu Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act. The five persons were placed in judicial custody and their cases are under investigation. No information about when their cases will be heard has yet been provided by the authorities.
Two weeks later, on 10 June, the District Collector and District Magistrate of Thoothukudi passed an order under the NSA, placing these five persons in administrative detention. The detention orders state these persons must be held in administrative detention because if they are released on bail, they will commit acts that may endanger public order and the security of the state.
The NSA is a repressive law that permits administrative detention without charge or trial for up to 12 months on loosely defined grounds of national security and maintenance of public order. It has been used to target protesters and human rights defenders in India.