Rajinikanth summoned by Thoothukudi firing probe committee

After visiting people who had been shot and injured in the police firing, actor Rajinikanth claimed anti-social elements had infiltrated the agitation.
Rajinikanth summoned by Thoothukudi firing probe committee
Rajinikanth summoned by Thoothukudi firing probe committee
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The single-judge commission probing the police firing on 13 civilians in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi has summoned actor-politician Rajinikanth for questioning. Rajinikanth, who visited people who had been shot and injured in the police firing during anti-Sterlite protests, claimed that “anti-social elements and toxic germs had infiltrated” the agitation. His comments, which came after the shocking death of 13 civilians, was slammed for its insensitivity and lack of evidence. 

Speaking to TNM, Vadivel Murugan, the counsel for the retired Justice Aruna Jagadeesan probe committee, confirmed that the actor had been summoned in light of his remarks to the press on the infiltration of the protests by anti-social elements. The actor has been asked to appear before the commission on February 25. “He would be questioned and asked for proof of his allegations. He may also be cross-examined by parties involved in the probe,” the counsel said.

Calling the events an intelligence failure, Rajinikanth had said that the police did not expect people to indulge in violence. Flaying protests in the state, Rajinikanth had also emphasised the need to save the industrial climate of the state, which, he said, would go through a lean patch if protests continued. 

On May 22, the 100th day of the anti-Sterlite agitations in the coastal district, police fired into a gathering of protesters that had marched in defiance of the restriction imposed in the area against the pollution caused by the Sterlite copper smelter. The firing, into the thousands-strong gathering, resulted in the death of 13 civilians. Over a hundred people were injured, some grievously. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami, who, too, had claimed instigation of people by anti-social elements, had justified the firing as a natural response to protesters attempting to set fire to the district collector's office and damage property.

This shooting and the police action following it sent shockwaves across the country. Several questions to the state government and police department remain unanswered in the aftermath of the shooting, including the necessity to open fire at protesters.

A one-woman committee was set up a day after the firing to inquire into what transpired on May 22. As of January 2019, the commission, which has sought multiple extension to submit its report, had completed 18 rounds in inquiries. Recently, counsel for the probe said that they were yet to receive CCTV footage from the Thoothukudi collectorate. 

In August last year, following calls to probe the actor on his comments, the probe committee had said that Rajinikanth may be summoned if required.

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