Countering charges against the State government and questions on the need for police firing which claimed the lives of 13 anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi, Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami on Thursday accused the Opposition parties and anti-social elements of instigating the protesters with an intention to malign the reputation of the government.
In an interaction with the media for the first time since the firing on May 22, Mr. Palaniswami rejected claims that the firing was pre-planned. He chose to address the press after a drama on the Secretariat campus following a dharna staged by DMK working president and the Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin, who claimed that the CM refused to meet him.
He evaded queries about who gave permission to open fire at the protesters. When asked about the need for police to fire at unarmed protesters, Mr. Palaniswami said it was only natural human tendency to self defend in the face of an attack. Mr. Palaniswami maintained that the Opposition parties and anti-social elements instigated the protesters.
The police initially used tear gas and then resorted to lathi charge, Mr. Palaniswami contended. But, protesters still went about torching vehicles at the Collectorate and also on Sterlite campus, he claimed and added: “They attempted to enter the Collectorate. We came to know about all this only through the media. Because I was here and you are all aware [that CM was in Secretariat for the review meetings].”
Replying to a query as to why he has not visited the riot-hit city yet, hesaid promulgation orders were in place and everyone should respect the law. “However, some political party leaders are visiting despite the promulgation orders.”
As for Mr. Stalin’s claim that the CM refused to meet him, Mr. Palaniswami said Mr. Stalin was in fact present at the Assembly Business Advisory Committee meeting and that he was surprised to see Mr. Stalin making contrary claims later.
“He [Mr. Stalin] could have told me during the meeting that he would give a plea to me later in the chamber. But, he chose to do this later,” Mr. Palaniswami said.