Rajinikanth summoned by judicial commission probing 2018 anti-Sterlite protests
Superstar Rajinikanth has been summoned before a judicial commission probing the case of police firing during the 2018 anti-Sterlite protest in Thoothukudi (Tuticorin). The 70-year-old actor has been summoned over his remark at the time which appeared to justify the police excesses. Notably, 13 people had died as the police cracked down on protesters at Vedanta's Sterlite copper smelting plant in 2018.
Rajinikanth summoned to appear on January 19
The summons have been issued by retired judge Aruna Jagadeesan, the head of the judicial commission investigating the incident, India Today reported. Rajinikanth has been summoned to appear in person on January 19, for a probable deposition in the matter. The panel has taken note of the actor's comments at the time wherein he had claimed that "anti-social elements" had infiltrated the protest.
Actor was previously summoned in February
The commission had earlier summoned Rajinikanth on February 25. However, he had sought exemption from personal appearance. He had agreed to provide written submission claiming that it would cause inconvenience to the general public. The investigation had been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it now seems to have picked up again. The Central Bureau of Investigation is also probing the case.
Police had opened fire at protesters in Thoothukudi in 2018
An order by the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board (TNPCB) for the closure of the Sterlite copper smelting plant at Thoothukudi had triggered the protest in 2018. On May 21-22 that year, the Tamil Nadu Police opened fire at the protesters. Thirteen people were killed in the firing. The police had then claimed that the collector's office had come under threat from the protesters.
Rajinikanth had initially criticized the police excesses. However, after visiting the site, he alleged that some "anti-social elements" had infiltrated the protest. "The government should crush such anti-social elements with an iron fist," he had said, calling for action against those who attacked the police. Meanwhile, the locals had alleged that the cops had torched vehicles to create a situation justifying police firing.