Thoothukudi firing: Four of the protesters shot dead were prominent anti-Sterlite leaders

With all four said to have been shot at in the head or chest, there is suspicion whether they were specifically targeted.

Published: 24th May 2018 01:56 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th May 2018 08:54 PM   |  A+A-

A police personnel shoots at the protesters protesting against the copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi. (Photo | Karthik Alagu)

Express News Service

THOOTHUKUDI: Four of the protesters shot dead by police at Thoothukudi on Tuesday were prominent leaders of anti-Sterlite protests. With all four said to have been shot at in the head or chest, there is suspicion whether they were specifically targeted.

Tamilarasan, the coordinator of anti-Sterlite movement, Snowlin, coordinator of the protest at Madha Koil locality, Maniraj, coordinator of Damodar Nagar locality and Gladston, coordinator of Metupatti locality, were among those killed in police firing.

The protesters say what makes them suspect the turn of incidents was that both Tamilarasan and Snowlin were well away from the eyes of the shooters, but gestured by a few officials asking them to come inside the Collector office apparently for talks. Thinking that the officials wanted to discuss the tense situation, both of them are said to have moved ahead when they were killed by the bullets that supposedly came from a higher altitude.

The police or revenue officials were not available for their comment on the allegations. But, the protesters strongly believe it can’t be just a coincidence that these four people were killed in the firing and the ultimate objective could be to make the anti-Sterlite protests a leaderless one or instill fear in the next rung of leaders.

But did the movement had any leaders? While anti-Sterlite movement protesters brush aside this question, DMK MLA Geetha Jeevan opines the elusive leadership had made it difficult for the administration to negotiate with the protesters.

“Had there been a leader, such a situation could be resolved,” she said.

The two-days of police opening fire at the protesters has definitely succeeded in installing a sense of fear among the protesters. Many of them refused to be named in the newspaper reports. 

One of Snowlin’s aide alleges that cops used 7.2mm bullet and it was fired from quite a distance. He named the Assistant superintendent of police Selvanagarathinam and said the officer was trying to create trouble during the protests. Selvanagarathinam could not be reached by Express on Wednesday despite several attempts.

Anthonysami, who survived the attempt on his life during the protest at Collectorate office as the bullet brushed his arm, says that he ran to safety. Rather than going to the hospital, he is taking treatment at his house.

Most of the protesters who had joined the protest had lost a close relative due to cancer which is blamed on Sterlite. Mahupa, who is facing a wheezing problem, blames Sterlite. She says cancer and breathing-related problems are on the rise due to Sterlite. 

“ We lost many of our relatives,” she says. While the leadership may have been eliminated, the protest will continue till Sterlite is shut, said a protester on condition of anonymity.

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