MAC: Mines and Communities

Opposition leader "expunged" in Tamil Nadu

Published by MAC on 2018-06-08
Source: Tines of India (2018-06-08)

This article asserts that the recent killings in Tuticorin were designed by the state government to re-inforce Vedanta/Sterlite's copper operations in Tamil Nadu.

Stalin speech on Sterlite expunged

Julie Mariappan 

The Times of India

8 June 2018

CHENNAI: The DMK [Dravuda Mummatra Kazhaja, an opposition party] on Thursday accused the Edappadi K Palaniswami government of using unidentified persons to shoot at Tuticorin protesters, 13 of whom were killed in the police firing on May 22 and 23. DMK working president M K Stalin alleged that it was a conspiracy hatched by the government to quell the protests and those who spearheaded the agitation against the Sterlite copper smelter unit in Tuticorin.

Talking to reporters at the secretariat after walking out in protest from the assembly, Stalin said “substitutes” were used despite Tuticorin sub-collector M S Prashanth issuing an order on the eve of the agitation, appointing nine executive magistrates, in the rank of tahsildars and deputy tahsildars, to maintain law and order and prevent untoward incidents. “These officials had not assumed charge on the day of protest, and some other persons were used,” alleged Stalin, showing journalists what he claimed was a copy of the sub-collector’s order. The ‘order’ directed the officials to be present at 6am the following day, in their designated places, until further orders and coordinate with the police.


“The substitutes were used to open fire at the protesters,” Stalin said, accusing the chief minister and DGP T K Rajendran of backing Sterlite’s operations in Tuticorin. The DMK leader dubbed the inquiry commission an eyewash. “We demand a CBI probe into incident,” he said, adding that the DMK would approach the court. When contacted by TOI, Tuticorin additional headquarters deputy tahsildar Ponnulakshmi, one of the nine officials mentioned in the order, as being deputed to Muthiapuram, declined to comment.


The Tuticorin police firing continued to rock the legislative assembly on Thursday as well, with speaker P Dhanapal expunging Stalin’s speech that focused on the anti-Sterlite protests. Following this, all DMK members walked out in protest. The chief minister said the opposition could approach the commission of inquiry constituted by the government and make their submissions before it. “The assembly cannot discuss matters that are sub judice,” he said.


Trouble began when the DMK leader sought to raise the issue during the zero hour debate, which was rejected. Speaker Dhanapal said there had been much debate on the issue, and the chief minister and his deputy O Panneerselvam had even replied on the floor of the House. “It is under investigation by the commission. The probe should not be disturbed and I cannot compel the CM to reply,” Dhanapal said. Later, Dhanapal allowed him to speak but with a warning that it may not get into the assembly records. Within a few minutes into his speech, Stalin was cut short. Dhanapal said he was expunging Stalin’s speech as the issue was being probed by the commission. “It relates to the inquiry commission and we cannot debate on it,” Dhanapal said. Stalin and his party MLAs walked out. DMK allies, Congress and IUML, however, remained in the House.

 

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