The judicial commission investigating the violence at Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelting plant in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi city in 2018 on Monday summoned actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth over his remark that anti-social elements had infiltrated the protest against the facility’s expansion, The Hindu reported. Thirteen people were killed in police firing at the facility.

Rajinikanth was asked to appear before the Justice Aruna Jagadeesan Commission on January 19. This was the second summons issued to actor as he had failed to appear before the commission on February 25 this year.

The actor, after meeting people injured in the violence on May 30, 2018, had justified police action against the protestors. He said that the protest turned violent only when its participants attacked the police. “I will not tolerate attacks on the police,” he declared. The remark contradicted the video statement Rajinikanth released on May 22, in which he had accused the police of high-handedness.

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A unidentified official told The Times of India that relatives of the people killed in the violence and Naam Tamilar Katchi leader Seeman were among those who demanded that the commission summon Rajinikanth over his remark.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court had refused to allow the reopening of the Sterlite plant for a trial run. The Tamil Nadu government had closed the plant after 13 people protesting against its expansion were killed in police firing on May 22, 2018. The government had also alleged that the facility had violated environmental norms.

In March 2019, the Madras High Court had declined to grant interim relief to Vedanta to access the copper plant for maintenance and administrative purposes. Vedanta had filed a petition seeking the reopening of its facility on February 27, 2019, after the Supreme Court refused to allow the firm to do so. The Supreme Court had, however, said the Tamil Nadu government and Vedanta were free to approach the Madras High Court on the matter.

In December 2018, the National Green Tribunal had set aside the Tamil Nadu government’s order to close the plant. The state government filed a plea against it, arguing that the tribunal had no jurisdiction in the matter. NGT described the state’s order as “unsustainable”, and directed the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to issue a fresh order of renewal of consent for the smelter within three weeks. The board had refused to do so.