THOOTHUKUDI: A day after the police firing at anti-Sterlite demonstrators, the public are pointing fingers at the district administration for neither spreading awareness on the functioning of the copper smelter nor holding peace talks with the agitators who have been protesting at their respective villages for the past 100 days.
Seconding the claim, a functionary of Federation of Villages against Sterlite Kummareddiapuram Rajkumar told Express that the district administration did not call them for peace talks even though the issue became state-wide.
“Instead, they chose the wrong path to handle with the agitation. We had informed them about the May 22 protest well in advance through media. They tried to suppress the agitation by registering cases against the leaders, and had tried to create split among the protestors,” he said, adding whenever they stage protest, collector N Venkatesh would just tell them that he would take up the issue with the State government.
Condemning the police firing, he said that the protestors were unarmed. “Our only aim was to lay siege to the collectorate and stage a wait-in protest until the State government comes up with a decision to close down the unit,” he added.
Meanwhile, former Tirunelveli MP SS Ramasubbu drew a parallel between the police firing and Jallianwalabagh shooting that happened in 1919.
“Even the British forces resorted to firing only at the end,” said the former parliamentarian from Tirunelveli who was honoured for asking questions in Parliament during his tenure from 2009-14.
“Only dialogue can help resolve the issue. Without spreading awareness and holding peace talks with the protesters, what was the district administration doing all these 100 days? It is unclear why the police opened fire when the protesters went ahead to besiege the collectorate,” he added.
The former MP recalled that frequent dialogues were being held between officials and those who were protesting against Koodankulam nuclear project though the agitation continued for three years.