Anti-Sterlite Protests: Madras High Court directs govt to preserve bodies of those killed in police firing

The Madras High Court today directed the state government to preserve the bodies of those killed in police firing during the anti-Sterlite protest at Tuticorin on May 22, until further orders. A vacation bench of justices T Ravindran and P Velmurugan also directed the government to file its counter affidavit by May 30 on a public interest litigation from three advocates. The petitioners sought an interim direction to authorities to appoint a team of private doctors to conduct re-postmortem with the process being recorded. The bench said advocates shall be permitted to provide necessary legal assistance to the affected persons in accordance with law. The PIL also sought an inquiry by the Principal District and Sessions Judge, with regard to sniper shooting by plainclothes men. They also sought a direction to the government to take appropriate action by prosecuting officials including the district collector and SP, Tuticorin, besides compensation to the relatives of the deceased and injured. The PIL also sought an interim direction to release all those arrested or illegally detained in connection with yesterdays protests. When the PIL came up, advocate R Sankarasubbu appearing for petitioners submitted that the Sterlite factory was causing health hazards and polluting the entire district. Therefore, the people in the district were agitating for years for closing down the factory. Instead of protecting the people, the state was protecting the industry, he submitted. The counsel alleged that the action against the protesters was not spontaneous but pre-planned. It was pre-planned murder, the counsel charged. Therefore, a sitting district judge should probe the police firing. Re-postmortem was also required in the presence of a doctor of the choice of the relatives of the victims, he added. In response to the allegations made by the petitioners, Additional advocate general Narmada Sampath said, The government is with the people and for the people. All procedures were scrupulously followed. Four magistrates were monitoring the post-mortem. The government has appointed a one-man commission and therefore the prayer in the petition has been fulfilled, she added. Violence broke out yesterday during protest for the closure of Vedanta groups Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin over pollution concerns with police opening fire, resulting in the death of 10 people. A man was also shot dead in police firing today following fresh clashes between security personnel and locals