The Madras High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Central Bureau of Investigation on a petition seeking an inquiry by the agency into the police firing in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi that claimed 13 lives, PTI reported. Around 70 others were injured in the agitation. The police have arrested 67 people for indulging in violence.
The court directed the Tamil Nadu home secretary to consider the representations of the petitioner and posted the matter for next hearing on May 30.
It was prima facie clear that several police personnel were directly involved in the killings, the petitioner claimed, adding that only an investigation by the CBI will instil confidence in the people.
Referring to the shutdown of internet services in in Thirunelveli, Kanyakumari and Thoothukudi districts on Tuesday, the petitioner said, “The state has no right to deny its citizens the right to use internet services.” It was restored in Thirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts after the home department wrote to the district administration and telecom service providers on Friday.
Earlier on Friday, the Supreme Court said it would hear a public interest litigation demanding a CBI inquiry into the Thoothukudi deaths on Monday.
The Sterlite Copper smelter
For more than two decades, activists in Thoothukudi have accused Sterlite of contaminating the region’s air and water resources, causing breathing disorders, skin diseases, heart conditions and cancer. Since February, there have been protests in Thoothukudi where Sterlite runs a copper smelter with the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of copper anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day.
On May 24, the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board cut power supply to Sterlite Copper’s Thoothukudi smelter after it found that the unit was “carrying out activities to resume production” despite being told not to do so until its licence to operate is renewed.
Earlier, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had issued an interim stay on the expansion of the plant. In April, the pollution control board had rejected the Vedanta-owned smelter’s application to renew its licence to operate beyond March 31.