NHRC agrees to consider reopening 2018 Sterlite firing case

The probe on the shooting that led to death of at least 13 civilians in Thoothukudi was closed by the commission earlier without disclosing the findings.

Published: 13th September 2019 10:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th September 2019 11:02 PM   |  A+A-

Thoothukudi Sterlite protest, EPS, 22 May 2018

In this 22 May 2018 photo, a police personnel shoots at the protesters protesting against the copper smelting plant in Thoothukudi. (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

CHENNAI: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has agreed to consider a review petition seeking to reopen the Sterlite case in which at least 13 people were gunned down in Thoothukudi.

After taking suo motu cognizance of the case, the NHRC had, in June 2018, sent an independent fact-finding committee to conduct an inquiry into the firing. However, the commission eventually closed the case.

“This is the first time in 25 years that the NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of the case, conducted its own inquiry and eventually closed the case without revealing the contents of their own report,” Henri Tiphagne, national working secretary of Human Rights Defenders’ Alert (HRDA) who filed the review petition, told Express.

Tiphagne had filed two review petitions so far- in December last year and another this month. The petition came up for hearing at the open hearing and camp sitting organised by the commission at the Anna centenary library in Kotturpuram on Friday when the bench headed by Justice HL Dattu, chairperson of NHRC, agreed to consider the review petition.

The commission had reportedly closed the case stating, “Since adequate compensation has been paid to the victims and appropriate steps have been taken by the state government to bring law and order situation under control, and the Judicial Commission is already looking into the angle of use of force/police excesses, if any, no further intervention in the matter is required. Report is taken on record and the case
stands closed.”

On May 22, 2018, at least 13 people were killed and at least 50 were injured after the police opened fire on protesters demanding the closure of the Sterlite plant.

The local residents are against the plant due to the pollution it causes. As the culmination of a 100-day-protest, protesters proceeded towards the district collectorate when the police opened fire.

The petition seeking to reopen the Sterlite Copper plant is pending before the Madras High Court.

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