Anti-Sterlite Protests: Rajinikanth Summoned by Judicial Commission Probing 2018 Violence
Thirteen people had died as protesters demanding permanent closure of Vedanta's Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tuticorin -- officially called Thoothukudi, had clashed with the police on May 21-22 in 2018.
New Delhi: Superstar Rajinikanth has been summoned by the judicial commission probing the police firing during the anti-Sterlite protest in 2018 to help with the investigation — over a remark that was seen to justify police use of excessive force on protesters.
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The commission has summoned him to appear in person on January 19, 2021.
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The summoning order has been issued by retired judge Aruna Jagadeesan, head of the judicial commission investigating the incident.
Thirteen people had died as protesters demanding permanent closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tuticorin — officially called Thoothukudi, had clashed with the police on May 21-22 in 2018.
Major outraged was witnessed after the incident, with the Opposition demanding an impartial probe into the matter. The 70-year-old actor initially condemned the police action but changed his stance after visiting the site of the protest.
Mirroring the line of Tamil Nadu’s ruling AIADMK government, Rajinikanth had blamed anti-social elements for the deaths and asked the state government to “come down hard” on them.
It had hugely upset the locals, who had accused the police of attacking protesters and torching vehicles to create a situation to open fire.
When asked why he was blaming anti-socials, Rajinikanth had lost his cool. “Don’t ask me how I know, I know all of that,” he had told reporters.
“If people go out and start protests for everything, then entire Tamil Nadu will become a graveyard,” said the actor, who had announced his intention to join politics shortly before.
As his statement set off a huge controversy, the actor had expressed regret. “I regret if I had hurt anyone,” he had said, without explaining or withdrawing the “anti-social” remark.
He has been called for a probable deposition in the matter. Retired judge Jagadeesan had taken note of the comments Rajinikanth had made at the time. He had been summoned earlier on February 25. He, however, sought exemption from personal appearance and agreed to provide written submission claiming that it would cause inconvenience to the general public.
It may be noted that the investigation into the case slowed down considerably due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But it seems to have picked up the pace again and the case is also being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation.
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