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Who gave the shooting order, Madras HC asks Tamil Nadu govt on anti-Sterlite protests

The Madras high court on Friday asked the Tamil Nadu government to explain why the police opened fire at anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi on May 22.

india Updated: Jun 02, 2018 10:06 IST
CS Kotteswaran
CS Kotteswaran
Hindustan Times, Chennai
Anti Sterlite protests,Madras high court,Police firing anti Sterlite protesters
Police personnel are deployed after violent protests demanding the closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit, in Thoothukudi.(PTI File Photo)

The Madurai branch of Madras high court on Friday asked the Tamil Nadu government to explain the circumstances that forced the police to open fire on May 22, resulting in the death of 13 people during a protest in Thoothukudi, against Sterlite Industries.

The court wanted to know “who gave the shooting order” and “whether the standard operating procedures were followed at the time of firing”.

The bench, which directed the state to file its counter by June 6, also questioned the authorities on “why CCTV cameras installed inside the district collectorate were not functioning”.

The bench, comprising Justices Muralidharan and Krishnavalli, was hearing two petitions filed by Thoothukudi residents. It also directed the state police to not arrest members of the public who participated in the protests without any prima facie evidence.

Petitioners Kandha Kumar and Muthu Amudhanatham also demanded revision in the relief amount sanctioned by Chief Minister Palaniswami for those deceased and injured in the violence of May 22.

Palaniswami initially announced Rs 10 lakh as compensation for the deceased and later doubled it to Rs 20 lakh.

The solatium for those seriously injured was also hiked to Rs 5 lakh from Rs 3 lakh.

In case of those with minor injuries, the solatium was increased to Rs 1.50 lakh from Rs 1lakh.

Now, the petitioners want compensation for the dead to be Rs 50 lakh and Rs 20 lakh for seriously injured.

Meanwhile, members of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) have also begun investigations and a one-man commission constituted by the state, headed by retired judge Aruna Jagadeesan, will commence investigations on Monday.

Earlier this week, the state passed orders directing the closure of Sterlite Copper’s plant, which has allegedly polluted the air and water in Thoothukudi.

The anti-Sterlite protests started in February and on May 22, the 100th day, they took a violent turn when the police opened fire on civilians.

Issues between residents and Sterlite Copper go back almost two decades and largely have to do with the environmental and health impact of the factory.

First Published: Jun 01, 2018 22:29 IST