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Whom to blame people or police in Tuticorin Sterlite copper protest firing

12 people in Tuticorin were killed in a protest by Tamil Nadu Police. The Police states that they did so to defend themselves from violent protesters and to bring the situation in control. From the public side, they lost their lives and not given any chance to explain what has happened. Their mode of communications including internet was also banned. Check out this post to know the details of Tuticorin Sterlite copper protest firing.

Sterlite Company

Sterlite was a rejected project in Maharashtra. It was rejected because of the agitation created by localities and their Government appointed a committee, which confirmed that the industry endangers their coastal environment.

Then it was commenced in Tamil Nadu in the year 1994. It had violated the Government rules for constructing the plant. As per the rule, the plant has to be constructed in 25 km away from Gulf of Mannar, but it was constructed in 14 kms from Gulf of Mannar. TNPCB issued the license with a warning, that the license would be revoked, if the operations of the factory contaminated the groundwater. The license could be cancelled for its location itself, instead the company was just given warning only.

PIL against Sterlite

In May 1997, people around the factory location felt suffocation and many fainted because of a gas leak in Sterlite factory. From then, many cases were filed against Sterlite. High court too ordered to shut the factory for many times. But all the time, the company was shut only for few days, then reopened.

Public protest against Sterlite Copper

When the law was broken, people also lost their hopes and got down to roads to stand up for their lives. They were doing protests for almost 25 years to shut the factory, but the protest became aggressive when the Sterlite management started facilitating for doubling its production by starting up unit II.

100 days of protest:

In March 2018, localities again started the protest. For continuous 99 days they were on roads and on 100th day, they started walking towards Collector office to continue to do the same kind of protest in front of collector office(after giving petition to the Collector). People whoever involved in protest were doing everything without creating harm to anyone for many years.

100th day of protest

100th day was not an exception to their way of protest. Even if they were violent, it was evident that none was killed by those 20,000 people. But suddenly, a scene of violence began. Collector office entrance was damaged, couple of Government vehicles were set on fire, policemen began with lathi charge and public started throwing stones on police. Both the sides were hurt, but the situation turned to be worse, when the firing began from police end. How come policemen be given such right to take off the lives of people who do protest for their lives?

Violent protesters

Police side and Government authorities gave the reason for firing. They said, "fringe group has mingled in the crowd and started violence against policemen, they were also started damaging public properties". People had already seen the drama of police against protesters in Jallikatu protest itself. We had seen the video evidence of policemen setting fire on public properties during Jallikattu protest. So, this too could be of that kind. Because, it is a common statement, they use at every lathi charge incidents. They could have tried this kind of violent response to public to disperse the crowd, but they did it to kill the protesters. Firing may be an emergency decision too, but it was not believable because people who lead the protest were mainly killed, (There was an audio in the gun shot video saying "target him"). Raw agents were involved. The shooting continued on the next day too.

Whom to blame - People or protesters?

Here there should not be a question of whom to be blamed at all. With this debate, the reason for protest need not to be diluted. If police were given rights to kill people to bring the protest in control, why a government body has not given right to shut a factory in order to stop the protest? Some criticize this protest for living as a protest against industrial development in Tamil Nadu. People in Tamil Nadu are not against technology development. In fact TN is rich in contributing to Country's GDP, but people are not ready to do so at the cost of their lives.

Why can't they put an end to Sterlite Copper?

In general, when there is a case on a property, immediately, it would be sealed and no operation will be carried over there. Here a company was violating the Government environmental safety rules, public safety rules and many PIL cases were filed against this company. Still it was continued to do its operation. Why the Government couldn't ban it first and seal it till they provide assurance on public and environment safety? The Government sincerely took effort to put an end to the protest, but not to the polluting company. Government put end to the lives of property damaging protesters and not to the hazardous company.

Who will answer to this city endured through violence?

No Government authority or Government official has taken liability for issuing gun shooting order till now. Even Chief minister of Tamil Nadu has told, he got the news only through media. Feeling ashamed to hear such press conference from CM of a state. So, it is not shocking to see such injustice in the state with irresponsible ministers as head. 12 passed away. More than 50 were injured with bullet shots and many more are wounded badly. Government had announced the relief fund for those who lost their lives and for those who injured, but still not identified the people behind this atrocity.

Is this how the victory to be celebrated?

Now, TNPCB has stopped power supply to the company and the company was shut. People protested for the same. Now, it could be celebrated as a victory too, but do people need to celebrate a success only on the death of their leaders, kith and kins? At the end of Jallikattu protest too, the same has happened in Tamil Nadu. They got the judgement in favor of their protest, but the protesters were brutally beaten up by police. Is that what Government's desire? When the Government was cornered, they provide us with what we want in exchange of our lives? Is that not a sadist attitude?

Stay alert

Government seeding violence among public. Killing of 12 people will never shatter the determination of others, moreover it fueled the protest fire. Public learnt to what extent their Government can go in favor of a corporate, they got prepared to see any extent and they became stronger and stronger. People(not only Tamilians) across the world stood united against this inhumanity of Tamil Nadu Government.

Memorial for the protesters

People should do the funeral for those who were died in protest in same place and a memorial pole need to be placed in that place. They have not lost their lives, they have seeded the spirit of living in others. This memorial should talk the history of people's determination against Sterlite or any other corporate that tries to endanger the living of people in any form. Government must think of this place before making approval to any such project.

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Guest Author: Ammu12 Jun 2018

Your attempt should be appreciated. But I can say neither protestors nor people it's solely depends on ADMK Government alone . They are warmly welcome them on the year 1995 . Tamil proverb sayings is there VANDHARAI VAZHAVAIKUM TAMIZHAGAM. so they welcomed

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