Anti-Sterlite protests: HC seeks video, documents prior to firing incident

The Madras High Court has asked the Tamil Nadu government to submit video recordings, documents and reports pertaining to protests against the Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, which saw violence and firing in the town on the 100th day of the stir.

Thirteen people were killed in police firing on May 22 and 23 when violence broke out during the protest by locals, demanding closure of the Sterlite plant (a unit of Vedanta Limited) over pollution issues.

A division bench comprising justices C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahmed also sought details of the intelligence report on the agitation, and directed the state government to submit the same on July 18.

The judges were yesterday hearing a PIL filed by A W D Tilak, a Tuticorin-based advocate, who sought a copy of the order issued to invoke Section 144 of CrPC that was clamped in parts of the town during the anti-Sterlite agitation.

The petitioner submitted that prohibitory orders had been clamped in the jurisdiction of SIPCOT and Tuticorin South Police Station limits only.

The protest was peaceful for 99 days, he submitted.

The petitioner also questioned why some people attached to certain outfits were not invited to the peace committee meeting.

The district Collector was not in town during the crisis, he claimed.

Multiple cases had been filed against individuals, the petitioner alleged.

The government counsel submitted that policemen were also affected and an equal number of policemen were injured.

The court heard all the related petitions including PIL and HCP seeking to restrain the police from invoking National Security Act etc.

The Madras High Court had on July 9 directed the state government to furnish a video in its possession allegedly showing some anti-Sterlite protesters with petrol bombs during the stir in May as it observed a CBI probe into the violent incidents will instill confidence in the minds of the people.

The state government had issued an order for “permanent closure” of the operation of Sterlite plant and the company has recently moved the National Green Tribunal challenging it.

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