Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin on Wednesday ordered the withdrawal of 38 cases filed against political leaders in connection with protests held at the Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi in 2018, reported PTI.
Protestors had marched to the Thoothukudi collectorate against the expansion of Vedanta’s Sterlite copper smelter plant on May 22, 2018. Thirteen people were killed in police firing that followed the march. Residents of the area had repeatedly claimed that the plant contaminated the region’s air and water resources.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Tamil Nadu government said that Stalin took the decision based on the interim report on the police firing. The report was submitted by a commission led by Justice Aruna Jagadeesan on May 14, reported The New Indian Express.
The cases were against Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Vaiko, Communist Party of India leader R Nallakannu, Communist Party of India (Marxist) state secretary K Balakrishnan, Amma Makkal Munnetra Kazhagam General Secretary TTV Dhinakaran, Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam leaders Premalatha Vijayakanth and LK Sudhish, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam’s Anita R Radhakrishnan and five others.
The inquiry panel had recommended relief to 94 people who were arrested. On May 21, the state government said all cases against the protestors would be withdrawn, except a few, including those filed by the CBI. The government also announced a relief assistance of Rs 1 lakh each to 93 arrested protestors. The mother of one of the arrested persons who had died would be given Rs 2 lakhs, the statement added. It is, however, not clear if the commission made any recommendations on the police firing.
Following a surge in coronavirus cases that led to a shortage in oxygen supply, the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government had allowed the reopening of the plant in April for four months to produce oxygen. The decision came after the Supreme Court suggested that the Tamil Nadu government take over the plant as oxygen is essential for the survival of critical coronavirus patients.