Anti-Sterlite protest: NHRC orders on-the-spot probe

Anti-Sterlite protest: NHRC orders on-the-spot probe

Policemen stand guard ahead of a protest, after at least 13 people were killed when police fired on protesters seeking closure of plant on environmental grounds in town of Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. REUTERS

The National Human Rights Commission on Tuesday decided to send its own investigation team to Thoothukudy (Tuticorin) for an on-the-spot inquiry into the police firing during the anti-Sterlite protest that killed more than 11 protesters.

NHRC director general (investigation) has been asked to depute a team headed by an officer not below the rank of senior superintendent of police from its investigation division for the inquiry.

The SSP will be assisted by three more officers of the rank of deputy superintendents of police and inspectors.

"The NHRC team would leave forthwith and examine all the concerned, including family members of the victims, and independent witnesses as it deems appropriate and submit a report to the commission within two weeks," an official statement said.

The decision came after the NHRC considered a petition made by A Rajarajan before the Delhi High Court and its order giving him liberty to the petitioner to appear before the NHRC for obtaining suitable directions.

The petitioner had sought a direction from the high court to order an inquiry by the NHRC under the provisions of Sections 14 and 17 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

In the statement, the NHRC said its instant direction in the matter is independent of the directions already given by it to the chief secretary and director general of police of Tamil Nadu seeking reports from them.

They were also asked to file a status report regarding the treatment being provided to the people who were injured in police firing.

On May 23, the NHRC had found fault with the government on the handling of the situation and said authorities "probably failed to foresee" the turn of events.

The NHRC had then said it appeared from several media reports that the police "resorted to firing on unarmed protesters without following the standard operating procedure", which tantamounts to serious violation of human rights. 

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