Thoothukudi: The victims of the anti-Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi district of Tamil Nadu were shot on their heads by the police, autopsy reports have revealed. “We had been saying that they were shot on their heads by the Police. But nobody listened. Now, it’s revealed in the autopsy report,” a cousin of one of the protesters, killed in police firing told news agency ANI.
Four senior police and two government officials reportedly said that they were forced to fire live ammunition in an attempt to ease the violent crowd. The Vedanta company had expressed regret over the loss of lives and termed the firing as an ‘absolutely unfortunate’ incident.
The anti-Sterlite protests that occurred in Thoothuki on May 22, 2018, claimed the lives of 13 people and injured over 60 people. The protests were aimed at thwarting the construction of the Sterlite copper plant controlled by London-headquartered Vedanta Resources. People who participated in the protest claimed that the copper smelter was hazardous for the environment and was responsible for groundwater pollution. Considering the people’s demand, the Tamil Nadu government on May 28 ordered the closure of the plant.
Soon after the incident, a working group of United Nations’ human rights experts condemned the police for the disproportionate use of lethal force during the protest. While some were shot in the head or chest, half of the protestors were shot from behind. The firing was aimed at a crowd of 20,000 protesters.
In the month of August, the Madras High Court ordered a CBI probe into the police firing. Later, the court then ordered that FIRs be filed against the top police officials and officials of the civil administration for the alleged firing. The Supreme Court, on December 7 this year, refused to stay the Madras High Court order for a CBI probe against the police officials.
(With Agency inputs)