Rights

Police Claim to Have Found 'Vital Clues' on Activist Mugilan's Disappearance

Hours before he went missing, the environmentalist had released a documentary alleging that the police planned the Sterlite shooting. Activists believe he may have been illegally detained.

New Delhi: The Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department probing the case of missing environmental activist S. Mugilan told the Madras high court on Thursday that they have found vital clues in the case. Additional public prosecutor R. Prathap Kumar told the bench that the investigation is going in the “right direction”.

Mugilan was involved in last year’s anti-Sterlite protests. He went missing from a train while travelling to Madurai from Chennai on February 15. Hours before his disappearance, the activist had met journalists in Chennai to release a documentary – Koluthiyathu Yaar? Maraikkapatta Unmaigal (Who burnt it? The Hidden Truths).

As The Wire reported before, the video incriminates the Thoothukudi police of having orchestrated the shooting of anti-Sterlite protestors on May 22, 2018. Putting together video clippings from various sources, Mugilan said the ‘shooting was well planned’ by the police and he accused IPS officers Shailesh Kumar Yadav and Kapil Kumar Saratkar of orchestrating it.

Activists believe that he may have been illegally detained by the police.

The probe team has now filed a status report before the court, in a sealed cover. Revealing the details could hamper the investigation, they said. The court agreed and asked for another status report to be submitted in three weeks.

Also read: On First Anniversary of Police Firing, Thoothukudi Remains Resilient

Mugilan’s family, however, has alleged that the investigation is not being conducted fairly, and the team is “harassing” those close to the activist. Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi leader Thol. Thirumaval had recently condemned the police action, Bangalore Mirror reported.

The court is hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by human rights activist Henri Tiphagne of Madurai-based NGO People’s Watch. When filing the case, Tiphagne said, “The Villupuram police have denied arresting him in the court. In the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgment on Sterlite on Monday, we are really worried that Mugilan is in serious danger now.”

The Supreme Court had set aside the NGT order allowing Sterlilte to reopen on account of maintainability and had asked Sterlite to approach the high court.

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