Shops open, buses run in violence-hit Thoothukudi

By NT Bureau Published on May 25, 2018 02:35 PM IST

Thoothukudi: After the violence and firing that led to the death of 13 persons, Thoothukudi is limping back to normalcy with resumption of bus services today and reopening of shops, thanks to the steps taken by the district administration following instructions from the State government.

This has come a day after the Tamilnadu Pollution Control Board ordered disconnecting electricity supply and closure of Sterlite's Copper Smelter Plant-1.

Thoothukudi's new Collector, Sandeep Nanduri, district police superintendent Murali Rambha, along with top State officials, held discussions with a host of stakeholders, including traders, to help restore normalcy expeditiously. Special officer, Gagandeep Singh Bedi said talks were held with associations of merchants, boat owners, hotels and labourers, among others, to elicit their views and bring back normalcy.

SERVICES RESUME

Even though some shops were closed, government bus services at certain places resumed in Thoothukudi with police protection.

Bedi said buses from Thoothukudi to Tirunelveli and Madurai have resumed, and buses to other districts will be fully operational by tonight.

Nandhuri said, "Buses are plying normally in the rural areas. As regards the corporation area, we are still assessing the situation and taking feedback from police authorities. We are ready to ply the buses, tomorrow we will decide."

Reports have emerged that the Thoothukudi vegetable market is now open. Nandhuri said, "Special water tankers have been employed to ensure adequate drinking water supply. Efforts have been taken to keep Amma Unavagam open 24 x 7. State-run Aavin milk outlets and grocery shops will also be kept open."

DAMAGE ASSESSED

Giving details about damage to property, Nandhuri said, "Totally, Rs 1.27 crore is the value of damage to vehicles. As many as 35 cars and 11 motorcycles got damaged and its value alone was Rs 36 lakh. The vehicles include government and private ones. Apart from vehicles, damage to property in the district collectorate complex was Rs 29 lakh."

The district is still under strict vigil and protest torn areas like Anna Nagar are under 24-hour surveillance by commandos, he said

However, when asked who authorised firing by the police, Additional Chief Secretary P W C Davidar, said the inquiry commission by retired judge Aruna Jagadeesan would look into the matter.

13 DEAD, 102 ARRESTED

Nanduri, also confirming that the protests and the subsequent shooting resulted in the death of 13 persons– 11 men and two women, said, "Post-mortem has been completed on six bodies and all the bodies would be preserved as per Madras High Court orders."

Nandhuri also said 102 persons were injured, 19 of them seriously. He added that 10 women were among the 34 police personnel injured in the firing and undergoing treatment at hospitals.

SC TO HEAR CASE MONDAY

The Supreme Court today refused to hear a plea seeking criminal prosecution of senior police officials and administrators for resorting to firing in which 13 people were killed. Taking cognisance of a petition filed by advocate G S Mani, the apex court asked the petitioner to mention the matter again on Monday.

The PIL filed by Mani asks for a case of murder under Section 302 IPC to be registered by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) against all officers of the Tamilnadu police, specifically the superintendent of police of Thoothukudi district and the Collector (who have since been transferred). The petition has called this unfortunate incident a 'fake encounter or illegal police fire'.

STERLITE TO EXIT COASTAL TOWN?

In a letter addressed to the National and Bombay Stock Exchanges, Vedanta Limited, which owns the Thoothukudi Sterlite Copper plant, has said it will comply with the government order and resume operations only after TNPCB grants the first factory a consent to operate certificate.

However, the CEO of Sterlite Copper, P Ramnath, has said exiting Thoothukudi is not on their cards.

The company claimed that the factory, built at a cost of Rs 2,100 crore, has not been in operation since 27 March (for 50 days), when it was shut for maintenance. The planned shutdown ends in the first week of June, according to the company.