Rajinikanth on Wednesday urged the Tamil Nadu government to take action against the police officials involved in the firing that left 13 persons dead in Thoothukudi last week. He also announced Rs 2 lakh each to the relatives of the dead, who were protesting against the expansion of the Sterlite Copper plant in the coastal town on May 22 and May 23.
“Higher officials who were involved in police firing should be punished,” News18 quoted him as saying before his visit to the hospital in Thoothukudi to meet the injured. “As of now, government order will suffice, but state government should also take legal recourse whenever a need arises.” Rajinikanth said his visit to the hospital was a “goodwill gesture”.
Following the police firing and deaths, the Tamil Nadu government on Monday ordered the closure of the smelter, which had the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day. Rajinikanth called the owners of the plant “inhumane” and said it should not be reopened.
For more than two decades, activists in Thoothukudi have accused the Sterlite plant of contaminating air and water resources, and causing breathing disorders, skin and heart diseases and cancer. Since February, there have been large-scale protests in Thoothukudi.
“It is saddening that lives have been lost due to the government’s lethargy in heeding the demands of the people. This should be reprimanded,” he said, according to The Indian Express. “The Tamil Nadu government is responsible for the violence and the deaths of common people.”
On December 31, Rajinikanth had announced he would launch a party and field candidates in all 234 constituencies in Tamil Nadu in the next Assembly elections in 2021. The actor also called for his fan clubs and the people of Tamil Nadu to join him in the “fight against corruption”. He launched a website and an Android application called “Rajini Mandram”, where people can register as members.