Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Oru Nathiyin Maranam (India, 1999)

I remember this incident happening in 1999. I say this as an incident, because that’s how the then media (TV and print) and the state government projected it. But, this should be called as massacre and not just another incident.

Workers from the Manjolai Tea Estate were demanding for their daily wage-rise and better working conditions. Prior to July 23rd some 600 people were arrested by the Tamil Nadu State police and were imprisoned in Trichy. 

Various political parties supported the workers. Under the leadership of Krishnaswamy thousands of tea estate workers, their family and sympathizers marched towards the Collector office in Tirunelveli asking to release the arrested people and tried to make a plea of their issues to the District Collector. The peaceful march turned violent, when the police started firing and lathi charge. People had to jump into the nearby Thamirabharani River to escape. 17 people were dead. According to this documentary the cause of the death was not drowning, the real reason was- police injuring the people and forcing\throwing the injured people into the river.

This documentary film “Oru Nathiyin Maranam” (Death of a River) depicts the massacre which took place at Tirunelveli on July 23rd 1999. The 58 minutes film interview people who were the victims of the massacre, leaders across political parties, social activists, newspaper photographers. 

There are no interviews from the then government persons or anyone from government body. But without hearing the government side story, I can easily relate the motives of the people responsible for this massacre. This news was given less importance by the then monopolistic TV media (Sun TV) and for various reasons print media also downplayed it.

A lathi-charge is very lethal. 5-foot long stick, swinging towards the head is a powerful strike as a bullet and it can break the skull. Having had a firsthand experience of how police reacts in this kind of situation, I can feel the chill, especially when getting hit and thrown in the river.

Watch the complete film with English subtitles,
YouTube link without subs,

**Above image from frontline.in

Other Documentaries in FilmBulb- The Act of Killing Part 1 & Part 2, Baraka, In The Name of God, How Much Wood Would A Woodchuck Chuck

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