Thoothukudi: The first anniversary of the Thoothukudi police firing that claimed 13 lives on May 22 last year was observed by various political parties and anti-Sterlite activist groups in Thoothukudi on Wednesday.
As police refused permission for activists to take out a procession in memory of the 13 killed in the firing, members of the Anti-Sterlite Peoples' movement led by Prof Fathima Babu organised a memorial gathering at a private hotel, as per court direction, and lit candles in memory of the victims of the tragedy. The meeting was presided over by Fathima Babu, who has been in the forefront against the private copper industry since its inception in the nineties.
The event also saw the participation of the Thoothukudi Roman Catholic Bishop Rev Fr Stephan Antony, who requested anti-Sterlite activists not to resort to violence. He promised the backing of the Church for the peaceful struggle of people.
Special prayers too were conducted at the Sagayamatha Church at Lion's Town here for 17-year-old Snowlin, who died of a bullet shot on that fateful day. Similarly, special prayers too were held at St Therasa's Church at Theresepuram and Lourdhu Matha Church at Lourdhammalpuram.
In the rural areas around Sterlite, memorial meetings were conducted by the Anti-Sterlite Thoothukudi District Peoples' Federation. Federation coordinator, Krishnamurthy, however, was not given permission to hold a meeting separately. The gatherings were at the villages of Kumareddiyapuram, Therkku Veerapandiapuram, Pandarampatti, Silverpuram, Subramaniyapuram, Madathur and Meelavittan, all outside Thoothukudi city.
Political parties like the DMK and the CPM also held meetings and paid homage to those who lost their lives in the police firing. Rajya Sabha MP Kanimozhi Karunanidhi paid her homage to the victims at a meeting arranged at her party office here. Veteran Communist leader R Nallakannu also paid his homage by participating in the DMK arranged meeting. Addressing participants at the meeting, Nallakannu demanded a special Act to permanently close down Sterlite, and added that the people's struggle would continue until the copper plant is closed down permanently. Security was beefed up to ensure that routine life in and around Thoothukudi was not affected. Around 2,300 police personnel from nine southern districts were deployed in Thoothukudi, for the day. South zone IG, Shanmuga Rajeswaran, along with his subordinate officers - Tirunelveli range DIG, Kapil Kumar Saratkar, and Thoothukudi district police superintendent, Murali Ramba, personally monitored the situation.
A huge contingent of seven ADSPs, 28 DSPs, 103 police inspectors and 208 sub-inspectors were deployed to prevent any untoward incident in and around Thoothukudi....