Chennai: The Madras High Court has directed the Tamil Nadu government to consider a plea for more compensation to the victims of alleged excesses of the special task force (STF) deployed to nab forest brigand Veerappan in the border areas of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, in 2002.
The dreaded bandit, a notorious sandalwood smuggler, was gunned down by the STF in an operation in October 2004.
Justice R Mahadevan gave the direction on enhanced compensation recently, while disposing of a writ petition from Vidiyal People Welfare Foundation, by its managing director A Murugesan of Urnatham in Salem district.
According to the petitioner, the association was established in February this year to promote the welfare of the people who suffered during the search for Veerappan by the STF personnel of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Since the STF personnel allegedly engaged in large-scale harassment of the villagers and tribals living in the border areas of the two states in gross violation of their human rights, various complaints had been lodged before the the National Human Rights Commission, which in turn, constituted a panel consisting of Justice A J Sadashiva, former Judge of Karnataka High Court and C V Narasimhan, former director of the CBI to enquire into the matter.
After enquiry, it submitted a report on December 1, 2003 before the NHRC and based on the recommendations, the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka governments had sanctioned Rs 5 crore each for distribution to the affected persons. The panel also released a victim list of 89 persons. A sum of Rs 2.80 crore was distributed to the victims in 2007.
The grievance of the association was that the interim relief of Rs 2.80 crore was not sufficient to the members of petitioner association, who had suffered permanent disability and lost their earning capacity, on account of various alleged atrocities by the STF. It submitted a representation to the state Chief Secretary on February 16 this year.
As there was no progress, it moved the High Court with the present petition.
"Since the issue involved herein is with regard to payment of reasonable compensation to the affected persons at the time of searching sandalwood smuggler Veerappan and taking note of the submissions made by the counsels on either side, this court directs the first respondent (CS) to consider petitioner's representation and pass appropriate orders on merits and in accordance with law, after affording an opportunity of hearing to the petitioner, within four weeks," the judge said.