Sterlite judgement is a victory of the people’s protest and of the blood shed by protesters, says Vaiko

Anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi celebrated the verdict with slogans paying tribute to the victims of the police firing

Updated - August 18, 2020 04:42 pm IST

Published - August 18, 2020 04:40 pm IST - THOOTHUKUDI

Anti-Sterlite protesters raising slogans near Rajaji Park in Thoothukudi on Tuesday welcoming the Madras High Court’s verdict upholding the sealing of Sterlite Copper

Anti-Sterlite protesters raising slogans near Rajaji Park in Thoothukudi on Tuesday welcoming the Madras High Court’s verdict upholding the sealing of Sterlite Copper

The Madras High Court’s verdict favouring “permanent closure of destructive Sterlite Copper smelter” is a resounding victory for the Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) that has been waging a sustained battle in the courts of law, as well as of the people pressing for this demand over the past 26 years, MDMK general secretary Vaiko has said.

“It is a victory to the judiciary, to people’s protest and the blood shed by13 anti-Sterlite protesters who were killed in police firing,” said Mr. Vaiko while welcoming the judgement. “This is the happiest moment for MDMK,” he said.

Even as the people’s protest against the Sterlite Copper was going on in an isolated fashion in Thoothukudi in the early nineties, Mr. Vaiko’s vehement stance against the copper smelter bolstered the battle significantly, as his unambiguous campaign coordinated the agitation towards a common agenda – permanent closure of the plant.

After Mr. Vaiko’s electoral battles suffered setbacks on a couple of occasions, MDMK office-bearers had accused Vedanta, the promoter of Sterlite Copper, of having undermined his victory through unethical practices.

One of the petitioners and district secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), Arjunan, vowed to continue the legal battle to ensure the permanent closure of the copper manufacturing unit. “Challenging today’s verdict (of the Madras High Court), the copper smelter management will definitely approach the Supreme Court. We, as a petitioner in the Madras High Court, will continue our legal battle in the apex court also,” Mr. Arjunan promised.

While a section of the anti-Sterlite protesters began gathering near Rajaji Park before the verdict was pronounced, their associates went to Kumareddiyapuram, South Veerapandiapuram, Meelavittaan, Pandaarampatti and other places where the anti-Sterlite protests were organized with much vigour, to celebrate the verdict. With slogans paying tribute to the police firing victims and the distribution of sweets, the brief celebrations soon came to an end in these hamlets.

Coordinator of Thoothukudi People’s Confederation for Anti-Sterlite Movement, Krishnamurthy, said the copper smelter, which was closed on three different occasions, could resume operations after getting relief from the Supreme Court. “Hence, there is nothing to celebrate as of now, as the factory management will certainly approach the apex court again against this judgement. Based on today’s verdict by the Madras High Court, the State government should immediately start dismantling the factory including the compound wall guarding the copper smelter,” said Mr. Krishnamurthy.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam too, joined in the celebration. “The State government should pass a Cabinet resolution to ensure the permanent closure of Sterlite Copper,” said Thoothukudi MLA Geetha Jeevan.

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