Chennai, May 24 (IANS) Under attack over police firing that claimed 12 lives in Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edapadi K. Palaniswamy on Thursday accused some political parties and anti-social elements of “deliberately instigating and misleading” sinnocent people leading to violence and loss of lives.
He told reporters that his government would continue to take steps under the provisions of law for closure of the Sterlite copper smelter plant against which the local people have been protesting and said electricity to the plant has been disconnected on Thursday.
“Some political parties and anti-social elements have wantonly instigated the innocent people who have been protesting peacefully all along and took them on the wrong path leading to unfortunate incidents,” Palaniswamy said without naming any political party.
Virtually justifying the police action, he said it was natural that somebody would act in self-defence when attacked and the action was not pre-meditated. The police used tear gas shells, resorted to lathi charge and then only opened fire when mobs set on fire vehicles near the district collectorate and stormed the residential quarters in the plant and the district collectorate.
Ussualy the police make preventive arrests but this time there was sudden violence compared to the peaceful protest that had been going on. The protesters had met the district administration 16 times in the past and their grievances had been addressed.
“We express deep condolences and a sense of sorrow over the loss of lives,” he said.
Appealing to the people to maintain peace and calm, he said all efforts are being taken to ensure return of normalcy in Thoothukudi.
Asked about the charge by Leader of the Opposition M.K. Stalin that he refused to meet on the issue, the Chief Minister accused him of enacting a drama outside his roon in the secretariat by doing a dharna when he was not there.
Replying to a question about the criticism that he did not visit Thoothukudi to meet the relatives of the victims and the injured, he said Section 144 Cr.PC has been imposed and people should respect law by not holding protest or taking out processions.
“Our first priority is return of normalcy,” he said taking an apparent dig at Stalin and other opposition leaders who have made a beeline to Thoothukudi.
Referring to the protest and the functioning of the sterlite plant, the Chief Minister said that the late Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha had ordered closure of the sterlite plant in 2013 but the company appealed against the order in the national green tribunal which allowed the company to operate under some conditions.
A case in this regard was still on in the Supreme Court and the Tamil Nadu government’s lawyers have strongly put forward their arguments.