The Madras High Court today ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to conduct an inquiry into the police’s decision to fire at protestors demonstrating against a Sterlite Copper plant in Thoothukudi in May.
A division bench of Justice C T Selvam and A M Basheer Ahamed passed the order on a batch of pleas moved against the police firing and detention of protesters under the National Security Act.
Violent clashes broke out in May as the police tried to stop protesters from marching to the district collectorate at Tuticorin; the protesters had been demanding a permanent closure of the Sterlite plant, owned by London-listed Vedanta Resources, on environmental grounds.
A few days after the incident, the Tamil Nadu government ordered that the plant be shut permanently on environmental grounds, and officials physically sealed the smelter, saying they were listening to residents’ complaints.
A total of 173 FIRs were registered on the protestors based on everything that happened on May 22, and several more were arrested and locked up in jail.
The court, on August 2, hence ordered the Tamil Nadu police to investigate and club all the FIRs filed against the protestors during the anti-Sterlite protest into a single FIR. The court directed that all the FIRs be converted into statements made by witnesses under section 161 (3) of the IPC. This case has now been transferred to the CBI.