Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Tuesday accused the DMK of instigating the anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi on May 22.
Speaking in the Assembly, he said DMK legislator P. Geetha Jeevan (Thoothukudi constituency) had led a rally of about 200 persons in the coastal town on that day, in defiance of prohibitory orders.
However, Mr. Palaniswami did not, even once, mention that 13 persons had died in police firing. Instead, both in his hour-long reply to a special call attention motion on the issue and a report tabled in the House, he merely stated that 13 people had died without responding to treatment in hospital.
Claiming that all precautionary measures were taken by the police, he said the protesters had breached the security cordon in at least five places in Thoothukudi on the 100th day of the anti-Sterlite agitation. About 20,000 people had gathered on that day. “Under unavoidable circumstances, the police were forced to take action,” he said.
The protesters were instigated by anti-social elements, he said, and pointed out that even a car of a DMK functionary accompanying Opposition leader M.K. Stalin during the latter’s visit to Thoothukudi was attacked. The locals were against the DMK, he claimed.
Blaming the DMK for having allowed the expansion of the Sterlite Copper unit (which was started during the AIADMK regime), Mr. Palaniswami said the company was first granted 100 acres and later 200 acres by the Karunanidhi regime. And, whenever the plant was closed, the AIADMK was in power, he pointed out.
The DMK members were not present in the House, as they had staged a walkout.
Narrating the sequence of events that culminated in violence with the help of photographs, Mr. Palaniswami said 2,000 police personnel posted in Thoothukudi had resorted to tear gas and lathicharge multiple times but to no avail. Two police vehicles, 35 vehicles belonging to other departments and 110 private vehicles were destroyed in the incident.
‘Action based on report’
The Chief Minister cited several incidents of police firing that took place during the erstwhile DMK regimes since the 1970s and contended that the principal Opposition party had always appointed a retired High Court judge or an RDO to inquire into these incidents.
As for Mr. Stalin’s criticism of him for not having visited Thoothukudi, Mr. Palaniswami said Information Minister Kadambur C. Raju and Deputy Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam had visited the town. He argued that DMK leader M. Karunanidhi never visited the places where police firing had occurred when he was the Chief Minister.
Referring to the constitution of a Commission of Inquiry under a retired High Court judge, he said he would take action only on the basis of the findings of the panel.
The cases filed against protesters who were allegedly involved in violence during the anti-Sterlite agitation in Thoothukudi on May 22 have been transferred to the CB-CID.
Superintendent of Police Murali Rambha told The Hindu that a little over 200 cases had been booked against those who created unrest during the protest.