Firing ordered after warnings went unheeded, says FIRs

May 22, 2018, was the 100th day of the peaceful protests by villagers of A Kumarareddiapuram who have been agitating in Thoothukudi since mid-February against the expansion plans of Sterlite Copper.

Two deputy tashildars gave shooting orders to the police to fire at the anti-Sterlite protesters on May 22 after the agitators “ignored” their pleas to leave the Collectorate and Police Quarters and continued to indulge in violence, according to the FIRs filed.

While Special Deputy Tashildar (Elections) Sekar gave shooting orders at the Collectorate— on the Thoothukudi-Tirunelveli National Highway where 12 people lost their lives, Divisional Deputy Tashildar M Kannan issued orders to use guns to disperse protesters at Thirespuram— where one woman identified as Jhansi Rani lost her life— in the heart of Thoothukudi.

The FIRs filed at the SIPCOT and Thoothukudi north police stations claimed that the agitators holding “deadly weapons” barged into the district Collectorate.

Their aim was to ransack the building after indulging in actions like setting cars and two-wheelers afire along the 6-km stretch of the march from Our Lady of Snows Shrine Basilica (Pani Maya Madha Kovil in Tamil) to the District Collectorate, it claimed.

In his complaint, Sekar, who ordered the shooting at Collectorate, said cadre of many organisations like Makkal Adhikaram, Naam Tamizhar and Revolutionary Youth Front ransacked several public properties and marched towards the Collectorate.

“More than 10,000 people holding deadly weapons marched towards the Collectorate. Police gave them enough warning to leave the area and when all their requests went unheeded, the men in khaki warned them that they would resort to firing. Only after necessary warnings, the police resorted to firing,” Sekar said in his complaint, which was accessed by DH.

The government official also justified the police action saying the protesters also attacked an ambulance that was carrying people who were injured in the shooting.

In his complaint, Kannan claimed that more than 500 men and women tried to barge into the police quarters near the ESI Hospital on the beach road without any provocation.

“Despite repeated warnings that their assembly was unlawful and that they should immediately leave the area, the protesters pelted stones and indulged in violence,” Kannan is quoted as saying in the FIR.

“As per procedure, police first used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Since there was no improvement, I ordered for shooting. Police shot thrice in the air and only then they indulged in the shooting,” Kannan claimed.

The police firing on the protesters shut Thoothukudi for almost four days with sporadic violence erupting across South India's “Pearl City”.

Tuesday (May 22, 2018) was the 100th day of the peaceful protests by villagers of A Kumarareddiapuram who have been agitating in Thoothukudi since mid-February against the expansion plans of Sterlite Copper.

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Firing ordered after warnings went unheeded, says FIRs

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