A day after the Tamil Nadu Publicity Minister Kadambur Raju was confronted by relatives of protesters in the Thoothukudi Government Hospital, Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam visited those injured in the anti-Sterlite agitations. He was accompanied by Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar and this time, ministers kept media out of the hospital premises, ensuring their interactions with the protesters were not recorded.
The Deputy Chief Minister while exiting the venue spoke to the media and claimed that the government will take necessary steps to permanently shut down the copper smelter plant of Vedanta Resources.
"We have all been hurt by this incident related to Sterlite. I express my condolences on behalf of the government. I met all those hurt in the incident and gave assurances. Their health will improve and they will get back to normal," said OPS. "The Government will do whatever is necessary to shut down Sterlite permanently," he added.
OPS further emphasised that former CM Jayalalithaa had ordered for the plant to be shut down in 2013. But Sterlite went to the National Green Tribunal and got permission to continue the operations. "The matter is currently in the Supreme Court," said the Deputy CM.
13 people died last week after the police opened fire on protesters. But when asked about who gave the shooting orders, OPS failed to answer the question.
The ministers were then shown the vehicles allegedly torched down by protesters near the collectorate. CCTV footage from the premises showed protesters barging in and flinging stones at the government building.
On Sunday, Minister Kadambur Raju was forced to cut short his enquiries with the injured in the hospital after he was confronted by angry relatives.
"Donāt try to fool us. Treat us with a humanitarian approach,ā said K Vasanthi, the mother of Santhosh Raj who was wounded in the protests. Pointing at her son's injured hand she asked, "What would you do if this happened to your son? Don't simply say āmadam, madamā."
And even the as the minister was trying to calm her down, Raj himself jumped into the argument.
"If they (Sterlite) open again will you take blame? Write and give that you will," demanded the injured student.
It is not clear what the minister's exact response was, but rattled by the heated exchange, he soon left the hospital premises.