Opposition MLAs, led by DMK working president and Leader of Opposition M K Stalin, on Tuesday boycotted the Tamil Nadu Assembly session over police firing in Tuticorin that claimed 13 lives.
Dressed in black, the MLAs sought the resignations of Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami and DGP T K Rajendran, and murder charges to be slapped on senior police officers involved in the incident.
On May 22, 13 people were killed as police fired at protesters who had reached the district collectorate to protest against the proposed expansion of a copper smelter of Sterlite Copper, a unit of the Vedanta group.
Stalin told mediapersons, the government was staging a drama on the issue and called the judicial probe into the police firing an eyewash. He said the government’s decision to shut down the factory was also an eyewash as the order in this regard, issued on Monday, did not follow due legal procedures that will stand before the court. “They issued this closure order without even holding a cabinet meeting. This is to facilitate a defeat in the case to favour the company. Chief Minister Palaniswami has done this to get more bribes from them,” he said.
Stalin demanded the chief minister’s resignation and criminal action and murder charge against senior officers involved in the firing. “For the people affected by the violence, we will not attend Assembly session till our demands are met,” he said. Stalin also accused the chief minister of suppressing information in his speeches in the House.
“We used the word mass murder, the word has been removed by the speaker. We repeat it, this was a mass murder,” Stalin said.
Alleging that the judicial probe ordered by the chief minister is an eyewash, he said, “When the judicial probe is going on, the chief minister is revealing his findings. What is the need for a probe then? We will call for a mock parliament and tell people who the culprits behind this violence were,” Stalin said.
In the Assembly, Palaniswami read out a report detailing steps taken by the government to resolve the protest and how the violence took place. Explaining how Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board denied green consent for the factory and listing out instances when the district collector and administration met protesters and appealed them to call off the agitation, the chief minister alleged DMK’s role behind the violence.
Asserting that it was a peaceful protest, Palaniswami alleged that 200-odd people led by DMK MLA Geetha Jeevan joined the march and sparked violence.
The chief minister said the police resorted to firing as a last resort. “By sparking violence, DMK was trying to destabilise the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, a day after the government issued an order to shut down the copper unit, State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamil Nadu issued an order, cancelling the allotment of land to Vedanta Limited for the proposed expansion. On Tuesday, Governor Banwarilal Purohit visited victims of the firing at Tuticorin government medical college.
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