Activist, who fought illegal quarries, run over by truck in Karur

A truck, said to belong to a quarry, knocked down Jaganathan when he was riding a two-wheeler

September 12, 2022 12:05 am | Updated 12:05 pm IST - KARUR

Policemen at the spot where R. Jaganathan was knocked down by the truck.

Policemen at the spot where R. Jaganathan was knocked down by the truck.

An activist, who had been demanding the closure of illegal stone quarries, was allegedly run over by a truck belonging to a quarry, at Kuppam near K. Paramathi in Karur district on Saturday evening.

The incident occurred a day after a quarry situated near Kalipalayam, where activist R. Jaganathan lived, was closed by the Department of Geology and Mining on complaints that it was being operated illegally.

According to local sources, a truck reportedly belonging to the Annai Stone Quarry knocked down Jaganathan when he was riding a two-wheeler. After confirming that he was dead, the occupants of the truck were said to have enacted a farce by alerting an ambulance service to conjure up a semblance of a road accident. Jaganathan was declared brought dead at the Government Medical College Hospital.

R. Jaganathan

R. Jaganathan

As information spread, a group of social activists, led by R. S. Mugilan, convener of the Tamil Nadu Environment Protection Movement, and the victim’s relatives and friends gathered in front of the hospital and staged a dharna. Alleging that Jaganathan was murdered for fighting to close the Annai quarry, they demanded a detailed investigation into the death.

Revathy, wife of Jaganathan, said her husband was brutally murdered for exposing the illegal operation of the quarry and refused to accept the body on Sunday until all the accused persons were arrested.

Later in the day, the police arrested S. Selvakumar, 39, the quarry owner; Sakthivel, 24, the lorry driver; and Ranjith Kumar, 40, of Rayavelur, on the charge of murdering Jaganathan.

Incidentally, in 2019, Jaganathan had a narrow escape when a group of persons attacked him with lethal weapons for opposing the functioning of the quarry. Selvakumar and Ranjith Kumar were citied as accused in that case too.

E. Sundaravathanam, Superintendent of Police, Karur, told The Hindu that according to preliminary inquiries, there was a prima facie indication that Jaganathan had been murdered for filing a complaint against a stone quarry. Further details would be known only after a detailed investigation.

Jaganathan had participated at meetings and protests organised by environmentalists against the illegal sand and stone quarries in the district for long.

“It is disheartening to note that Jaganathan was brutally murdered for voicing protest against illegal quarries. It is an attempt to silence those struggling to save the environment. We will continue our protest until all those involved in the case are arrested. An impartial inquiry should be conducted,” demanded P. Gunasekaran, a social activist in Karur.

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