The Madras High Court has ordered the Tamil Nadu government to submit video footage of the Thoothukudi anti-Sterlite protests, and also directed the state intelligence department to file a report on the protests which lasted for 100 days.
Moreover, the bench also asked the TN government about the kind of guns that were used to fire at the protesters on May 22, and the whereabouts of the District Collector of Thoothukudi on the day of shooting.
The bench, consisting of Justices CT Selvam and Basheer Ahamed, ordered the Tamil Nadu government to submit footage of the protest that happened for 99 days prior to the day of shooting. The court ordered the government to submit the footage and the reports from the state Intelligence department by July 18.
The Madurai bench of the Madras HC was hearing 15 petitions whose demands included — murder charges be pressed against the officers-in-charge during the May 22 shooting, the case be transferred to the CBI, and that compensation announced to the families of those who lost their lives be increased.
The Additional Advocate-General of Tamil Nadu, Chellapandian, said that on May 21, prohibitory orders under section 144 (unlawful assembly) were issued and a peace committee meeting was held at the Collector’s office headed by the District Superintendent of Police and the sub-collector. The advocate also said that despite promising not to indulge in violence on the 100th day of the protest, some protestors indulged in violence on May 22 and damaged public property, causing a loss of several crores.
The counsel for the TN government also said that the protestors had attacked the District Collectorate, and were warned against using loudspeakers, tear gas and shooting at the sky. He also submitted that the police had to shoot at the crowd since a mob set government vehicles on fire and refused to back off, despite multiple warnings issued by the police.
13 civilians were killed when the police opened fire at the protestors on the 100th day of the anti-Sterlite protest on May 22 in Thoothukudi. This sparked outrage across the state, prompting the TN government to shut down the Sterlite copper smelter on May 28.