Chennai, June 1: The Madras High Court’s Madurai Bench on Friday ordered the Tamil Nadu government to state the reasons, by June 6, for the May 22 police firing in Thoothukudi which left 13 persons dead. The court’s order came as it heard a petition demanding registration of murder cases against senior police and other government officials for the firing and also setting up a Special Investigative Team (SIT). On May 22, police fired at people protesting against the Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi killing 13 and injuring over 60 persons. The government was asked to submit its report by June 6.
Earlier Chief Minister K. Palaniswami told the media that people in Thoothukudi had been protesting peacefully for long against the company, alleging that it was causing health hazards and depleting the water table, but this time, the opposition and “anti-social elements” had turned the movement violent. According to an FIR lodged by Thoothukudi police, a Deputy Tehsildar has claimed that he had ordered police firing on May 22 against the anti-Sterlite Copper protestors. The FIR filed by the police on May 22 says that Sekar, Deputy Tehsildar in Thoothukudi, admitted that it was he who had ordered the police firing at the protesters after all the other steps to preserve law and order failed. As per the FIR, Sekar said he had at first warned the protesters that force would be used and when his request was defied, he ordered a baton charge. When this proved inadequate and the crowd kept surging forward menacingly and attacked the police personnel, he had ordered the firing of tear gas shells after due warning. (IANS)