Tamil Nadu CM Palaniswami defends action against anti-socials in Sterlite violence
Chennai, Jun 4: Stoutly defending the action against those who indulged in violence during the anti-Sterlite stir, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister K Palaniswami told the state assembly that no government should encourge anti-social elements.
Citing violent incidents on May 22 and 23 such as hurling of petrol bombs and beating up people with wooden logs and damaging public property, he asked "are they general public? there were, hence, some miscreants and anti-socials." He was replying to Leader of Opposition M K Stalin of DMK who wanted the government to withdraw cases against the Tuticorin protesters.
The protest demanding closure of Sterlite's copper plant in Tuticorin turned violent and 13 people were killed in police firing. The chief minister said several parties were holding protests and the ruling AIADMK too had launched agitations when it was in the opposition and asked "did we take wooden logs or petrol bombs then?" He rejected the opposition's claim that the government was portraying people who protested against Sterlite as anti-socials. "I would like to clarify that we are calling only such elements (who indulged in violence) as anti-socials and not the general public," the chief minister said.
People who protested righteously to for their rights were given due permission and appropriate security as well, he said. Palaniswami said no government should encourage those who indulge in violence, anti-socials and miscreants as it would lead to a big problem later. Stalin said the protesters were "not anti-socials, poisonous elements or terrorists."
Claiming that 'tension', continued in Tuticorin in view of police personnel carrying out house to house checks, he asked the government to take steps to stop it. Congress Legislature Party leader K R Ramasamy echoed DMK's stand and wanted the cases to be withdrawn. Palaniswami said police arrested only those who indulged in violence based on evidence such as photograph and not the general public. The government also will not allow detention of public, he added.
Intervening, Stalin said there were also images of police men in plainclothes taking aim to shoot at the protesters and he hoped that such things too would have come to the notice of the Chief Minister. Referring to the one-person Commission of Inquiry led by retired judge Aruna Jagadeesan constituted to go into the Tuticorin incidents, the chief minister said information related to the violence can be submitted to it. He reiterated that based on the findings and recommendations of the commission, appropriate action will be taken against those who committed wrongs. Taking on DMK's stand that the closure was not permanent as only a Government Order was issued, he emphasised that it was legally valid citing legal provisions and related technicalities.
"The plant cannot be opened. It is permanently closed and sealed." All the permissions like boiler license and power connection were cancelled, he said. When Stalin sought a House resolution affirming the closure of Sterlite plant since there were chances of the company approaching the court on the issue, Law Minister C Ve Shanmugam cited matters that had gone to court in the past despite such a course.
Despite an assembly resolution of 2011 recommending commutation of the death sentence awarded to Rajiv Gandhi assassination case convicts, the issue went to the court, he said. Similarly, despite the inclusion of Tamil Nadu's 69 per cent reservation under the 9th Schedule of the Constitution which bars judicial review, the matter went to court. He said matters like legislation or a resolution could be taken up by courts for review.
Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam said if the Sterlite matter went to court it will be legally demonstrated that the closure was in tune with the state's powers. Stalin reiterated his party's demand for enhancement of compensation to the victims of violence which includes a solatium of Rs one crore for the kin of those who died in police firing.