THOOTHUKUDI: It was an emotional day for Maniraj (35) from Damodharan Nagar as he was attending the funeral of his friend S Thangadurai, who died out of eye cancer allegedly caused by the Sterlite copper smelter plant. But he had no idea that his obituary poster would be glued next to his friend’s in the next few hours. He was one among the 13 victims who were shot dead in police firing on Tuesday last. Maniraj had got married just two and half months ago and his widow Anusiya is pregnant now.
Unable to bear the tragic death of her husband, Anusiya swooned multiple times during the past two days. Family members remember Maniraj as a teetotaller and a workaholic. He had been running an electrical gadget shop at Bryant Nagar. “He was always focused on his work and never refused to take up a job, even if it was a minor one. Just two hours after he took part in Thangadurai’s funeral, we received a phone call informing us that my brother was shot dead,” S Jeyakumar, elder brother of Maniraj told Express. According to Maniraj’s family members, he did not intend to go to the protest at first, but later relented to a friend’s request.
“After attending Thangadurai’s funeral, he came home and played with his sister’s children. A phone call came and he left without even taking food,” Jeyakumar added. Maniraj’s younger brother Ramesh Kannan (31) said, “I was watching news and came to know that two persons were shot dead. I learnt only later that my brother was one of the victims.” The family was also allegedly assaulted by police when they were waiting in front of ThMCH mortuary to see Maniraj’s body.
“I was attacked with baton while waiting to see my brother’s body.” Jeyakumar said. The family members are deeply disturbed as they suspect that a local policeman, who also happens to be the regular customer of Maniraj, was the one who shot him during the firing. “My brother’s shop is close to the police quarters. We heard that policeman shot my brother. He regularly visits my brother’s shop for recharging mobile balance and my brother even did some electrical work for his house. We also heard that there was a friction between them as the cop had payment dues,” Kannan told Express.