Rape and brutality in Tamil Nadu village: Madras HC sends 215 officials to jail

Estimated read time 5 min read

On June 20, 1992, officials raided Vachathi, apparently in search of smuggled sandalwood. During the raid, property and livestock were widely destroyed and 18 women were raped.

In a historic verdict, the Madras High Court on Friday dismissed all the appeals and stayed the bench order that found 215 people – all forest, police and revenue officials – committed brutal crimes, including sexual assault, during a 1992 sandalwood smuggling raid in Vachathi, a tribal village in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district. “This court finds that the testimony of all victims and prosecution witnesses is compelling, consistent and reliable,”

Rape and brutality in Tamil Nadu village
Rape and brutality in Tamil Nadu village

Justice P. Velmurugan said in his order, adding that the The prosecution proved its case through its evidence. On June 20, 1992, officials raided Vachathi, apparently in search of smuggled sandalwood. During the raid, property and livestock were widely destroyed and 18 women were raped. In 2011, a court in Dharmapuri convicted 126 forest officials, including four Indian Forest Service officials, 84 police officers and five finance ministry officials, in connection with the case. Of the 269 defendants, 54 died during the trial and the remaining 215 were sentenced to between 1 and 10 years in prison.

Upholding the decision, the Supreme Court on Friday directed the trial court to immediately arrest all the accused to serve the remaining term of the sentence. Justice Velmurugan also ordered the Tamil Nadu government to pay immediate compensation of Rs 10 lakh to each rape survivor, as ordered by the division court in 2016, and recover 50% of the amount from the men. he was convicted of this crime.

The court also directed the government to take strict action against the district collector, police superintendent and district forest ranger who had sheltered the accused at the time. “From the evidence of the witnesses, it is clear that all the officials, including the District Collector, District Forest Officer and Superintendent of Police, although they know who the real culprit is, but for the best reason. people they knew, they did not take any action against them and to protect the real culprits, innocent villagers became victims.

Therefore, this court comes to the conclusion that the prosecution has proven that all the appellants committed the crime. The judge also ordered the state government to provide suitable employment – ​​self-employed or permanent – ​​to 18 rape victims or their family members. He ordered the government to brief the court on the social measures taken to improve livelihood and living standards in Vachathi village after this incident.

The outrage over the Vachathi case triggered a CBI probe in 1995, leading to a chargesheet against 269 accused, including then forest chief M Harikrishnan and other officials. other senior positions.

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