Coimbatore: “My inner parts ache terribly. My limbs, as you can see, are still swollen. The needle stabs under my nails throb with pain. I cannot sleep; not because of all these sores outside and within me but because of the terrible fear that the police, having been dragged to the court by my daughter, will now turn their wrath upon her. I fear for her life”, says Chandra, 49, an inmate of the Central Prison for Women at Coimbatore. DC correspondent met the traumatized poor woman in the jail as a concerned ‘friend’ along with her lawyer.
Chandra was brought to the lock-up on August 14 even as the country was getting ready to celebrate Independence Day next morning. She was accused of murdering her landlady at Udumalpet (Tirupur district) on August 10. The police took her to the station saying they only wanted to ask her a few questions but she was allegedly subjected to the most brutal torture a woman could endure.
“Look at my fingers; pins were inserted under the nails. I couldn’t walk for a long time because I was brutally beaten with lathis by seven male officers after being undressed and hanged upside down. I do not know whether I was bleeding or menstruating. I lay unconscious for hours,” Chandra said as tears rolled down her weary face.
“I was forced to accept that I murdered my landlady, why would I kill her, tell me. After all that beating in the station for how many days I cannot recall, I had no option but to parrot what the police ordered me to say before the magistrate”, said the prisoner. “When I was finally brought to this jail after the magistrate’s order, the prison officials saw my condition and told the Udumalpet police to get a medical certificate from the government hospital”.
Deccan Chronicle got a sneak interview with Chandra as a concerned ‘friend’ (nanbar), along with her lawyer Ms Manju Menaka Rajeswari, at the Coimbatore central prison for women even as she waited for justice. Her daughter had petitioned the Madras high court and Justice V. Ramasubramanian responded humanely in directing the principal district judge, Coimbatore, to investigate, helped by a medical officer, and report back on September 3.
When asked about the murder charge, Chandra said, “Leelavathy was my landlady. I have no clue about the murder. I don't know why I am being framed in this case.” “Every part of my body is aching. No woman should undergo the brutal treatment that I had suffered at the hands of the Udumalpet police. I am unable to walk; I can't even sit properly.”
According to daughter Rajakumari, her mother has been working as an assistant to the cook at a small hotel in Udumalpet for the last 18 months or so, hoping that her meager earnings would enable her to repay the debt of Rs 1 lakh.
“My brother Perinban, my father Chelliah and mother worked in Tirupur mill for few months. They returned to Madurai two years ago as the mills were closed. My mother got a job in the hotel in Udumalpet for Rs 200 per day. In order to save every penny, she skipped breakfast for several days. She slogged to save us,” she said.
“We never thought our poor mother would suffer like this. My little daughter keeps asking when she would meet her grandmother. I have no answer for her”, said Rajakumari, fighting back tears.
Recalling her last trip to the prison to meet her mother, she said, “My mother told me the policemen inserted lathi in her private parts and hanged her naked upside down. They forced her to sign a confession statement saying she murdered her landlady. All through, she asked me, trembling, whether the police would come to back to beat her up again. She needs help, please,” said Rajakumari.
Location: Tamil Nadu