The inquiry commission led by retired High Court judge Aruna Jagadeesan on Friday submitted her report on the 2018 Thoothukudi killings during the anti-Sterlite protests to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin. At least 13 civilians were killed after the police opened fire at the protesters agitating against the reopening of the Sterlite copper smelter in Thoothukudi on the 100th day of the demonstration, on May 22, 2018.
The one-woman inquiry commission was set up the very next day to probe the causes and circumstances leading to the police opening fire. As per the terms of reference of the commission, it was to determine whether appropriate force was used as warranted by the circumstances and whether all prescribed procedures were observed before opening of fire. It was to ascertain whether there was any excess on the part of police officials and if so, to suggest action to be taken and also to recommend suitable measures to prevent the recurrence of such incidents in future.
As per the Tamil Nadu government gazette, the inquiry commission was to complete its probe and submit its report within three months. However, itâ€™s taken nearly three years and a change of government for the commission to submit its report.
Thirty-three people had reportedly been summoned for examination â€“ most of them doctors from Tirunelveli and Thoothukudi medical college hospitals who had treated those injured in the protests on May 22 and 23 of 2018. Staffers of the Thoothukudi Collectorate whose vehicles were set on fire had also been questioned for the investigation, per sources.
In total, 918 people were reportedly examined in the first 24 sittings, of whom 617 were questioned by the commission itself. Eight hundred and fifty documents were marked till the last sitting of the commission, according to a TOI report from February 2021.
TNM had reported earlier that retired Justice Aruna Jagadeesan has been a controversial judge, and was on the bench that gave a clean chit to the police in February 2015 in relation to alleged fake police encounter in Velachery. Five men suspected of robbing a bank had been killed in the incident, and the bench had also dismissed a plea for a probe by the CBI into the matter.