A Special Deputy Tahsildar and a Zonal Deputy Tahsildar who gave orders to shoot at protesters in Tuticorin on May 22 have been transferred by the administration.
Thoothukudi District Collector Sandeep Nanduri, on Friday, issued the transfer order of eight officers with immediate effect. Kannan and Shekar, the special deputy tahsildars who were on duty on the day of the Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi have also been transferred.
Kannan has been transferred as the sub-tahsildar of Kayaththaaru and Shekar has been transferred as the sub-tahsildar of Thiruvaikundam.
It was only a few days back that it was revealed that Shekar, had ordered the policemen on duty to fire at the protesters at the Collectorate.
Meanwhile, M Kannan, Thoothukudi Zonal Deputy Tahsildar, had said in his statement given to the Thoothukudi North police station that he gave firing orders at Threspuram. He claimed that a large group, mainly women protesters, had entered the police quarters with dangerous weapons like machetes and petrol bombs, and therefore he gave orders to shoot.
In the FIR filed regarding the shootings, Shekar had claimed that sufficient warnings were given to the protesters but then they continued to remain violent. Hence he had to use tear gas to try and disperse the crowd which, he alleged, did not budge the gathering.
"We warned the protesters that if they didn't disperse and continued the violent activity, we would have to shoot them. But they were increasingly becoming a threat to public life and property," he had said in his statement.
The deputy Tahsildar had also claimed that bullets were fired into the air as a warning but did not have any effect on the crowd.
"Being patient after this would have resulted in great damage to public life and property. So I ordered for guns to be used to disperse the crowd," he had stated.
However, new documents that emerged after the FIR have indicated that Shekar was posted at least 12 kms away from the spot of firing. These details have opened a whole new set of questions regarding Shekar’s involvement in the shooting.
Further, on Wednesday, another FIR claimed that Inspector Meenatchi Nathan issued shooting orders in the FCI godown area on May 22.
All these developments have led to an important question as to who is authorised to issue shooting orders and in what situation is it acceptable to open fire at civilians.