THOOTHUKUDI: A key person in the anti-Sterlite movement, S Vanchinathan, was arrested by police at the Chennai airport late Wednesday night. The state coordinator of the People’s Rights Protection Centre, a wing of Makkal Athikaram, was produced before a judicial magistrate in Thoothukudi on Thursday.
Vanchinathan, who is also the Madurai district secretary of Makkal Athikaram, Madurai, has been named the seventh accused in an FIR registered at SIPCOT police station in Thoothukudi on May 22. The advocate at the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, was a key person behind the Anti-Sterlite protests having provided legal support alongside advocates Hariragavan, Thoothukudi district secretary of Makkal Athikaram, and Rajesh of Pandarampatti. He got court permission for the anti-Sterlite rally in Thoothukudi on March 24.
Sources said that these advocates were actively involved in the protests against the copper smelter since June 2017. The advocates are also said to have played a vital role in mobilising the public for the May 22 rally to besiege the Thoothukudi collectorate demanding permanent closure of the plant. However, police opened fire at the protesters. Thirteen people were killed in police firing over two days as violence spread across the district.
The FIR registered against the advocates at the SIPCOT police station in Thoothukudi, and assessed by Express, revealed that the three advocates were among the seven accused and were booked under Sections 147, 148, 188, 353, 506(ll) of the Indian Penal Code and 30F of Tamil Nadu Property Prevention of Damage and Loss Act (TNPPDLA) for vandalising barricades, resisting police and torching vehicles at FCI roundabout, where the violence began on May 22. Others named in the FIR are Kamaraj and Ponpandi of Madathur, Elavarasan and Arulraj of Meelavittan. Persons close to Vanchinathan said that the charges against him were false and that he had not been involved in any violence.
Vanchinathan and Hariraghavan had moved an anticipatory bail application at Madurai bench of Madras High Court, which was dismissed on June 18. The judge directed them to face police interrogation as they were among the leaders of the Anti-Sterlite movement. Subsequently, police arrested Vanchinathan.