Environmental rights activist S Mugilan, who has been missing since February, was detained by the police at the Tirupati railway station in Andhra Pradesh on Saturday, The Hindu reported.
Mugilan reportedly “disappeared” after he addressed a press conference in Chennai on February 15. He had accused senior police officials of orchestrating violence in Thoothukudi during last year’s anti-Sterlite protests, in which at least 13 people were killed in police firing.
Human rights activist and Executive Director of People’s Watch Henry Tiphagne had informed the Tamil Nadu Police after verifying the information that Mugilan was spotted at the Tirupati railway station. “We are happy that he has been spotted alive,” Tiphagne said. “I have passed on this information to the Tamil Nadu police for appropriate action.”
A video of Mugilan raising slogans in police custody went viral on social media. The activist’s son, Kaar Mugilan, told The Hindu that the man seen in the video sporting a beard was his father.
Tirupati Urban Superintendent of Police KKN Anburajan said Mugilan was picked up by the Railway Protection Force and handed over to their Chennai counterparts, who then handed him over to the CB-CID in Chennai, according to The News Minute. Mugilan was reportedly brought to Katpadi in Tamil Nadu, where the CB-CID of the Tamil Nadu Police took him into custody.
Anburajan said the Railway Protection Force personnel did not identify Mugilan initially. “He staged a small dharna in front of a train, which is when the RPF stepped in and detained him,” he said. “There was no arrest made in Tirupati at all, till he was handed over to the CB-CID. We do not know what action they took.”
CB-CID Director General of Police MS Jaffar Sait said he received information that a person resembling Mugilan had been spotted in Tirupati and taken to Katpadi. “We have sent a team to verify the input,” Sait said. “It is too early to comment or confirm anything at this stage.”
At the press conference on February 15, Mugilan had alleged that the police, in connivance with the management of Sterlite, were behind the violence that took place on May 22, 2018. He specifically named Indian Police Service officers Shailesh Kumar Yadav and Kapil Kumar Saratkar. While Yadav was the inspector general of police of south zone at the time of the incident, Saratkar was the Tirunelveli deputy inspector general of police. Both were transferred out of the area in June.
Mugilan was reportedly last seen by a few of his friends at the Egmore Railway Station in Chennai.