CBI must probe Thoothukudi firing case: CPI(M)

By PTI Published on Jun 04, 2018 02:16 PM IST

Tuticorin: The CPI(M) demanded that the probe into the police firing which killed 13 people during protests here last month to demand closure of the Sterlite plant over pollution concerns, 'be handed over to the CBI, monitored by the Madras High Court'.

"The probe into the incident has to be done by an authority which is not involved with State and Central governments. The enquiry should be handed over to the CBI and monitored by the Madras High Court," CPI(M) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury said.

The police department had last month transferred the case to the CB-CID. Speaking to reporters after visiting families of the deceased and the injured, he said the protesters had planned a 'sit-in protest' at the Collectorate on the 100th day of the protests on 22 May.

"But that was met with snipers and shoot at sight orders. Strange thing is, I am told that the District Collector and Superintendent of Police were not in the headquarters that day. So who gave the orders?" he asked.

Yechury demanded to know if the Collector delegated the authority to anyone or whether somebody assumed that authority for themselves. The locals in the district had been protesting for closure of the factory for 99 days.

The protests turned violent on 22 and 23 May leading to police firing, in which 13 people were killed. Pointing out that there were no party flags during the protests, he said, "even we (CPI-M) were not there with our party flags. But now cases have been filed against our activists."

Yechury demanded withdrawal of cases 'foisted' against all the protesters. He said the Collector and Superintendent of Police in Tuticorin district should have been suspended, instead of being transferred, till the inquiry was complete.

Yechury alleged the Sterlite Copper plant was allowed to operate in Tamilnadu because of "strong connections" between the Vedanta Group, which runs the plant, and successive governments.

"The nod for expansion of the Sterlite plant was granted after the Modi Government came into office. Why?" he asked.

On 29 May, the Tamilnadu government had cancelled the land allotment for expansion of the Sterlite plant and also ordered the state Pollution control board to 'seal and permanently close' the existing unit.

The government has also constituted a Commission of Inquiry under retired Madras High Court judge Aruna Jagadeesan to probe the incidents in Tuticorin.