New Delhi: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notices to Tamil Nadu government for allegedly making people attend political rallies in searing heat without provision for basic facilities.

The Commission has taken cognizance of a complaint sent to it that several people were forced to sit for political rallies, in open fields under the scorching sun, for four to five hours without drinking water and other basic facilities, leading to injuries and loss of lives.

This allegedly happened despite the District Collectors’ advising that the public should not venture out from 11 a.m to 4 p.m due to scorching heat, said an NHRC statement.

Representational image. IBNLiveRepresentational image. IBNLive

Representational image. IBNLive

The Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, government of Tamil Nadu calling for detailed reports, within two weeks even as it directed them to take necessary measures to prevent recurrence of all such incidents in the future.

“The allegations are serious and the incidents, if true, are indeed unfortunate. While the political parties, especially during the election period, have every right to organise public meetings, it is also the duty of the state/district administration, while granting permissions for such meetings, to take all necessary steps considering the safety and security issues in mind,” observed the Commission while issuing the notices.

“The incidents, one after the other, point towards failure on part of the authorities,” it said.

For three public rallies on 11, 15 and 20  April in Cuddalore, Virudhunagar and Salem districts respectively, people were allegedly forced to assemble as early as 11 a.m in the scorching heat, although, the meetings were to start after 3 p.m.

They were “neither allowed to attend to nature’s call nor provided with basic amenities” like drinking water, thereby subjecting them to hardship, the statement said. Many people fainted at Virudhuchalam rally in Cuddalore district, creating unrest and panic, which in turn, led to a stampede.

17 persons were admitted to hospitals following the incident. Two persons lost lives as first aid was not provided promptly. Another person was seriously hurt in the stampede at Aruppukkottai in Virudhunagar district and eventually died while two others died in Magudanchavadi in Salem district due to heat and overcrowding.

People were allegedly “paid Rs 300” over and above the wages under the MNREGA to participate in the meetings, the statement said.

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NHRC issues notice to Tamil Nadu government for forcing people to attend rallies in heat