The report filed in Assembly addressed the protests and violence which followed, but does not clarify what necessitated the shooting.

File murder cases against cops DMK protests in Assembly over Thoothukudi violence
news Sterlite Protest Tuesday, May 29, 2018 - 17:11

Even as the Tamil Nadu assembly convened on Tuesday, tensions were high a week after 13 civilians were gunned down by the police during the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi.

In a report titled, “Regarding events that took place during the protest in Thoothukudi demanding the closure of the Sterlite plant on 22.05.2018,” the Chief Minister filed the government’s stance on the police gunning down of 13 civilians.

“Several politicians and NGOs had conducted several peaceful protests demanding that this plant not be given permission to operate. Under these circumstances, from 12.2.2018 to 25.4.2018, the Thoothukudi collector, sub collector, Ottapidaram tahsildar, and various other government officials held talks with protesting groups 14 times and explained the strong actions that the Tamil Nadu government has taken. Despite this, the protesting groups continued their agitations peacefully demanding the closure of the Sterlite plant. In this situation, protesting groups had decided to protest at the district collector’s office and another round of talks were held with the collector on 20.05.2018. After the talks, the protesting groups agreed to forego the protest planned at the collector’s office and conduct a one sit-in protest at the grounds near the Thoothukudi old bus stand. Despite this, nearly 2,000 police officers were pressed into service as a precautionary measure. Further, the Thoothukudi district Collector declared Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code,” the report read.

Further, it said, “Under these circumstances, despite the ban in place, some political parties and groups took part in the protest with the intent to put pressure on the government. Joining up with protesting groups on 22.5.2018, they suddenly blocked the collector’s office and the Sterlite plant and created a law and order issue. A few mingled with the crowd, pelted stones on police personnel, chased them down, attacked them, damaged the district collector’s office, set fire to the government cars, police cars and others cars as well as the two wheelers parked at the office and indulged in rioting. They also set fire to the vehicles at the nearby Sterlite staff quarters and damaged the district industries office, Thoothukudi south police station and other commercial establishments.”

Without mentioning what necessitated the shootings specifically, the report states, “Under these circumstances, in order to control the violence, in order to protect the life and property of citizens, in order to prevent further damage to public property, in order to stop the rioters, in order to control the violence, tear gas shells were thrown on them and they were beaten. Under unavoidable circumstances, police department was forced to take action.”

The assembly session was marred by ruckus over the May 22 shootings as the DMK staged a walkout. Leader of the Opposition and DMK working President MK Stalin slammed the Chief Minister and called for his resignation.

He said, “When we were protesting against the shootings and the mass murder in assembly, the Chief Minister got up and objected to our usage of the word mass murder and asked for it to be struck off the record of the house. The Speaker also removed it. This is an inept government that removes it. They say there are 13 victims. But no police official has taken responsibility, there should be a murder case filed on all the police officers involved in this. They should be suspended and they should face disciplinary action. Beyond all this, Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami should take moral responsibility for this and resign.”

Heated arguments also broke out between the AIADMK MLAs and RK Nagar MLA TTV Dhinakaran, likening the incident to the Jallianwala Bagh massacre. “Aren't they ashamed to call this Amma's government? We all know what happened when Minister Kadambur Raju went. We know what happened when Panneerselvam went surrounded by policemen. They claim they met the people and consoled them. Who will believe this?”


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