Chennai: On the eve of the first anniversary of the horrific police firing against anti-Sterlite protesters in Thoothukudi, the DMK president M K Stalin on Tuesday strongly condemned the ruling AIADMK's 'Janus-faced' approach to the Sterlite copper smelter issue that stirred environmental activists worldwide.
"Can we forget May 22, 2018, for that inhuman police firing on peaceful protesters against Vedanta group's copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi which claimed the lives of 13 innocent people," asked Stalin in a statement drawing attention to the extremely painful tragedy Tamil Nadu witnessed that day.
The DMK leader said that on the one hand the "heartless regime" led by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami had refused permission for a memorial meeting to remember the victims in the southern port-town on Wednesday, the first anniversary of the tragedy. On the other hand, the ruling AIADMK was "refusing" to take a policy decision still to permanently close down Sterlite's factory there.
"It is this continuous double-faced duplicitous approach of the Edappadi Palaniswami-led government to the Sterlite issue that will not be accepted by the people of Tamil Nadu for long and the ruling party's regressive stance is highly condemnable," Mr. Stalin said.
Expressing deep pain and grief at the loss of human lives in the police firing and the repression let loose by the police on the protesters to the affected families, Stalin faulted the manner in which the entire protest issue - which had been going on for over 100 days peacefully prior to the day of the incident- was handled by the present state government. It was not only "inhuman" but also sought to "strangulate the freedom of expression" of the people opposing the plant on sustained environmental grounds.
Mr. Stalin said even after a year, neither did the State government bother to quicken the completion of the Judicial enquiry into the Sterlite firing by the retired High Court Judge, Dr Aruna Jegadeesan, nor ensure justice for the families of the victims of the police firing in Thoothukudi that made International news.
It was even more pitiable that adequate compensation had not been yet paid to the families of the deceased and the injured, the DMK leader said. Mr. Stalin assured on DMK's return to power, the new government on a priority basis will redress all these issues including adopting a Cabinet resolution to permanently shut down Sterlite's controversial copper smelter plant in Thoothukudi. Action will also be taken against those who were responsible for the "barbaric shooting" including those who ordered the police firing, he added.
DMK REFUTES PMK'S CHARGE:
Meanwhile, in another statement here on Tuesday, DMK's organising secretary and Rajya Sabha MP, Alandur R S Barathi rejected the charges made by PMK founder leader Dr S Ramadoss, blaming the DMK as being responsible for the re-polling in some booths in the Dharmapuri parliamentary constituency from which the latter's son and former minister Dr Anbumani Ramadoss is contesting.
Referring to the press interviews given by voters who again voted during the re-polling in select booths in Pappireddipatti that they were at last able to exercise their franchise freely, advocate Barathi said Dr Ramadoss was going on hammer and tongs against the DMK, "unable to digest the truth that voters there were hitherto prevented to vote freely" allegedly by PMK strongmen. He also pointed out to a statement made in this regard by Dr Anbumani himself at a Tiruporur election meeting. So, "instead of blaming the DMK for the re-polling, it is the PMK leader who should apologise to the voters where re-polling took place in Dharmapuri constituency," added Alandur Barathi.