The firing on Sterlite protesters by Tamil Nadu Police should be heavily criticised and rightly so. Law permits the Police to open fire at the protesters for self defence, that too below their waist and not at the upper part of the body. Infact, much ahead of the open fire, there is a series of protocol to be followed by any security department.
This sudden action of the Tamil Nadu Police has been discussed and debated in several social media platforms, but all of them failed to say what made the police to take such a drastic action. This post is not to defend the open fire by Tamil Nadu police but it is to mention the actions of some of the violent protesting mobs which probably instigated the open fire.
The below video is one such typical example. The lady in the video suggests that there are 2 Lakh Police personnel in the state of Tamil Nadu and 7 Lakh people in Thoothukudi, the police are outnumbered and the people will teach the police a lesson if they fail to listen to the protesters. She even went ahead to suggest that the people of Thoothukkudi will remove the clothes of Tamil Nadu police and attack them after that.
Must watch and this meeting happened just before May 22nd.
— Hari Prabhakaran (@Hariindic) May 24, 2018
Isn’t this an outrageous comment? Who are instigating the people in Thoothukkudi to make such vulgar and diabolical statements against the Tamil Nadu police who are known to be one of the best in India.
SatyaVijayi had earlier run stories on how there are vested interests who are trying to instigate the protesters, “One Samarendra Dhas representing ‘Foil Vedanta Group’ of London had allegedly visited Thoothukudi recently for a ‘secret meeting’ with the anti-Sterlite leaders, where he reportedly promised help to keep alive the fire against the copper smelting plant.”
Some anti-social elements intruded into the agitation on May 22 and attacked the police, torched the police vehicles. Under tense situation, police resorted to firing and the firing was not pre-plannned. #SterliteProtest
— Edappadi K Palaniswami (@CMOTamilNadu) May 24, 2018
Apart from what one such protester had mentioned in the above video, there were several anti-social elements in the mob. What did these anti-social elements do?
- They demolished and burnt the vehicles that were on their way while marching to the Collector office.
- They pelted the Tamil Nadu Police with stone.
- Attacked the residential quarters of the Sterile company.
- Launched attack on Hospitals, demolished Ambulances carrying patients and even fire engines were not spared.
- ATMS were destroyed.
- Reached the Collector office and started demolishing the vehicles, few also torched many of the vehicles. Collector office workers fled for life.
- Lives of many common people in residential quarters, hospitals and were put under threat.
Photos of a vandalised ATM & vehicles set ablaze during anti-#SterliteProtests in #Thoothukudi. At present internet is suspended in the area & Section 144 (prevents assembly of more than 4 people) is imposed. #TamilNadu pic.twitter.com/dDsOIp2DQi
— ANI (@ANI) May 24, 2018
Unfortunately the protests against the Sterilite plant in Thoothukkudi turned violent due to the presence of few anti-social elements. This had forced the police to fire on the protesters, which caused the death of nearly 13 people and injuring several others.
The protests were hijacked by certain radical groups several weeks back. Tamil magazine, Kumudham had carried a story three weeks before about the involvement of Naxal groups in hijacking this Sterlite protest.
If one had noticed very closely, the Thoothukkudi protests, very similar to the last stages of a very peaceful Jallikattu protest, had been hijacked by anti social elements. Thoothukkudi having Christian population around 30%, the Church has a great influence over the people’s daily life. Very similar to what happened in the Kundakulam Nuclear Power Plant Protest, a hidden hand of the Church just cannot be denied here.
When such voices speak out the truth they are not heard, they are branded as anti-Tamil so that people don’t hear these voices.
One more such traumatising video is seen shown below, several protesters were seen targeting a single Police officer, is this fair? The person who is seen capturing this video is completely enjoying the way people are attacking the lone police office.
— Hari Prabhakaran (@Hariindic) May 24, 2018
The loss of innocent lives is the most tragic part of the incident. Some of the deceased, who were part separatist organisations, are said to have induced violent views to the common people by sharing provocative ideas and messages through their social media pages they control. This is the one of the primary reason for Tamil Nadu government to suspend the internet facilities in Thoothukkudi and surrounding districts.
Hon'ble CM-Press Release-Thoothukudi dt sterlite industry-violence-death-Date 22.05.2018 pic.twitter.com/ItkoFoMIZn
— Edappadi K Palaniswami (@CMOTamilNadu) May 22, 2018
— Edappadi K Palaniswami (@CMOTamilNadu) May 23, 2018
The Government in it’s letter, went ahead to mention the setting up of an inquiry commission to look into the deaths that had been caused in the firing incident. In-spite of this announcement, several anti-social groups were completely involved in spreading false news with half-truths in social media to instigate people to involve in violence.
A video went viral in Facebook, where a lady by the name of Nilani Nila, while being dressed in Police uniform was suggesting that she is ashamed to wear the uniform since Tamil Nadu police had killed several innocent lives. She went ahead to suggest that people of Tamil Nadu should refrain from paying taxes to the Government of India and that this incident is an example of the Tamil genocide that had happened in Sri Lanka.
Unfortunately several people mistook her video to be a confession from a police officer in Tamil Nadu, in real life she turns out to be a Tamil soap actress. Her statements not only would have instigated several Social Media users but created further communal tensions in Thoothukkudi district. From several of her Facebook posts, it is evident that she is part of groups which is in support pro-eelam activities.
So the biggest question here is, was this soap actress’s video in a Police uniform pre-planned to incite violence and keep the state burning? Chennai police have registered a case on her for this act of instigating violence.
This can also be considered a big intelligence failure from the sides of both Central and State Government. There had been several warnings, if only they had foreseen the violence, they could have taken suitable measures to prevent this tragedy in advance.
To top it all, the Thoothukkudi Sterlite plant has stopped functioning as early as March 27th 2018, and there is no meaning of protests at least until the Courts comes up with a decision on the functioning of plant.
Fringe groups in Tamil Nadu have been attempting to create civil unrest and this Sterilite protest is a typical example of it. To avoid such incidents in future, the Central and State administration should be well prepared to educate the public about the functioning of radical groups and fringe elements in the state.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SatyaVijayi