Death of a River| 1hr
Director: RR Srinivasan | Producer: kanchanai film society
Focus Years: 1999 | Country: India
Death of a River is a documentary about the Manjolai massacre, which took place when Tamil Nadu police attacked a procession of striking tea estate workers, their families and supporters on July 23. The demonstrating workers were demanding that they be paid the half-day wages illegally deducted from their pay packets since February and the release of 652 fellow workers previously arrested by police. Seventeen people, including two women and a two-year-old boy, were killed and 500 injured in the police attack. The documentary exposes the provocative nature of the police attack, which involved the Rapid Action Force, a special police unit, and shows police throwing bricks and stones at the demonstrators. It also includes footage of police firing tear gas, rubber bullets and rifles at the terror-stricken and unarmed men, women and children. The demonstrators were subjected to a baton-charge and forced into the river; a waiting column of police beat those able to make their way to the other side of the river. The film later shows the bodies of those killed by police strewn on the banks of the river. Thus the Manjolai massacre represented the Death of a River, the Thamiraparani, which had sustained the life of many people over centuries. The first part of the documentary graphically exposes the police brutality and includes interviews with tea estate workers, the injured and leaders of the demonstration. The 60-minute film, which denounces the Tamil Nadu government's judicial inquiry into the massacre, concludes with the words, "It is only the people who will and are eligible to give justice." Although some television channels have previously broadcast news footage on the incident, Death of a River is the first film to provide a detailed examination of the massacre.
Death of a River | 1hr
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RR Srinivasan Ramamoorthy
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