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November 8, 2003

Action Alert


Protest Vindictive Action Against

Human Rights Defender and Group by Jayalalitha’s Vindictive Government


Illegal “Search” of premises of People’s Watch

Group was at the Forefront in Securing a Ban Against Togadia’s Entry

            Stand Up and Be Counted !

                                       Add Your Signature to the Protest!


The undersigned citizens, groups and organisations strongly protest the vindictive action of the Jayalalitha government against a dynamic and vibrant human rights’ group People’s Watch¸ headed by Henri Tiphagne who is at the forefront of human rights struggles and human rights education all over India, especially South India.


On November 5, a whole posse of policement armed with a search warrant raided the premises of the office of People’s Watch and raided it on fictitious charges. Over 150 policemen present from all ranks upto the rank of ADGP, came on November 5, 2003, this “search” took place in their office.  The whole “search” of the building was accompanied by very intensive Intense “videography” involving 2 police videographers who were more interested in capturing everything in the office through their videographic expedition.  The whole process was witnessed by one Mr. Mohan, Tahsildar, Madurai South Taluk who is known to Mr Tiphagne and who categorically informed him that he was not informed that he was coming to these premises.


The fact that nothing was proved in this ‘search’ is self-explanatory. What needs to be stated however is the backdrop against which this ‘search’ which is nothing short of an attempt to intimidate a right’s group and it’s leading activist –took place.


Most significantly, Mr Tiphagne and People’s Watch were directly and actively involved in securing a ban from the Collector, Madurai against VHP International General Secretary, Praveen Togadia for distribution of tridents. The grounds for securing the ban was that Mr Togadia’s track record of delivering hateful and venomous speeches was detrimental to peace and public tranquillity. This move resulted in strong political protests against Togadia;s proposed entry from October 27-30, 2003 in Madurai.


PW, has been at the forefront of human rights’ struggles of various dimensions. It’s director also serves as a member of the National Core Group on NGOs constituted by the NHRC two years ago. The group works in the State of Tamil Nadu in the field of Human Rights Monitoring, Intervention and Education.  Its activities often demands it to deal with a number of cases involving police excesses.  On 27th and 28th October 2003the organisation was instrumental in processing several cases indicating very serious human rights violations and gross negligence of duty on the part of the Tamil Nadu Police in 2 of the 3 historic public hearings conducted under the aegis of the National Commission for Women and the Tamil Nadu State Commission for Women – on 27th October 2003 at Virudhunagar and on 28th October 2003 at Madurai


For all this committed work PW and Henri Tiphagne are being targeted. In the backdrop is also the action of the TN Assembly against journalists of The Hindu.  At a national level, the Gujarat government’s targeting of Ms Mallika Sarabhai in a false case and before that Ms Nafisa Ali in a defamation case speaks of the increasingly harsh and vindictive conducts of governments in India against outspoken persons devoted to humane values and human rights. It appears that India is functioning less and less like a democracy and more like a banana republic where the rule of law has no place.


We appeal to you to immediately add your name to this appeal for an immediate stop to such vindictive tactics by the State of Tamil Nadu against a Human Rights Group and its director, Mr Henri Tiphagne.



Justice Hosbet Suresh (retired)                      

Aruna Roy (MKSSS)

Teesta Setalvad   (Communalism Combat)    

Javed Anand (Communalism Combat)

Kumar Saptarshi, Yuvakrand                           

Varsha Deshpande, Yuvakrand

Anoop Singh, Chhatisgarh Mukti Morcha—CMM)

Mohamed Jawahirullah (TMMK, Chennai)      

Farooque Shaikh (cine artiste, Mumbai)                                

Rajendra Prasad (SAHMAT, Delhi)                

Dolphy D’Souza  (AICU/VOTE, Mumbai)
Nikhil Wagle (editor, Mahanagar, Mumbai)

Anand Patwardhan (film maker,Mumbai)

Ram Rehman (eminent photographer)  

Kamal Mitra Chenoy, JNU

Anuradha Chenoy, JNU                                  

Alyque Padamsee (Communications)

L.S.Hardeniya, EKTA and National Integration Committee, BHOPAL

Agneya, Senior Journalist, BHOPAL               

Advocate Rajani, PUHR

Advocate Amala. PUHR                                 

Satya S., Mangalore

Peer Badshah, Shimoga                                   

Murali, Centre for World Solidarity

Dr Roop Rekha Verma, Lucknow                   

Dr Swati, Varanasi