Rajinikanth summoned by panel probing Thoothukudi police firing
The commission, headed by justice (retired) Aruna Jegadeesan, has summoned the actor to appear in person at the panel’s premises in Thoothukudi on February 25.Updated: Feb 05, 2020 10:16 IST
Actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth has been summoned by the judicial commission probing the police firing on anti-Sterlite protesters in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi in May 2018 in which 13 people died.
The commission, headed by justice (retired) Aruna Jegadeesan, has summoned the actor to appear in person at the panel’s premises in Thoothukudi on February 25.
This followed the demand from several witnesses to cross-examine the film star for his remark that the firing and the resultant casualties were due to anti-social elements who indulged in violence and burning of public property during the protest.
Sterlite Copper Smelter Unit, a subsidiary of Vedanta, is located in the heart of the port town of Thoothukudi in southern Tamil Nadu. There has been persistent protests and court battles for its closure on the ground that it was a prime cause for pollution.
On the 100th day of the agitation on May 22, 2018, activists and political parties, traders’ fora, various outfits and civil society organisations took out a massive rally to the district collectorate to present a memorandum.
Violence erupted during the peaceful rally and in the police firing 13 people lost their lives. The victims included 17-year-old J Snowlyn, who was shot near the beach, far away from the site of violence. The state government ordered the closure of the factory on May 28, 2018.
Rajinikanth who visited the injured at the hospital in Thoothukudi two days after the firing squarely blamed it on anti-social elements and also criticised mass protests as anti-development and anti-industry.
“It was the anti-social elements and miscreants who set fire to the vehicles and attacked the district collectorate. The government should crush such elements with an iron fist. If we continue to protest like this, the industrial climate will be affected and the state will turn into a barren graveyard,” he had said, inviting the wrath of the opposition.
The post-mortem reports, accessed earlier by HT, show the victims were hit on the head and the chest in violation of standard operating procedures.
The commission has held 18 hearings and examined 440 witnesses. It is slated to examine police and revenue officials besides the doctors who conducted the autopsies on the victims.