Chennai: A grieving father, who lost his son (40) in the police firing during the anti-Sterlite agitation on May 22 in Thoothukudi, has approached the Madras high court to hand over the body of his son to him to perform his last rites. A division bench comprising Justices T.Ravindran and P.Velmurugan permitted S.Balaiah to implead himself as a party respondent in the petition filed by three advocates.
Originally, the bench had on May 23 while passing interim orders on the petition filed by advocate Jimraj Milton and two other advocates, directed authorities to preserve the bodies of the persons killed in police firing during anti-Sterlite agitation on May 22, until further orders.
In his petition, Balaiah submitted that his son Shanmugam has studied B.Com, MBA and now earning livelihood from audit work and share trading. On the fateful day of May 22, his son left to attend to some repair work of their house situated at Teachers Colony, Thoothukudi. The workers needed some money to purchase materials for the repair works. Since he was not carrying enough cash, he left to draw money from an ATM.
As fate would have it, he chose to go to collectorate where a TMB ATM was available. He was unaware of the agitation underway. When he was driving his two wheeler, he saw large number of people fleeing from the spot. He also fled away from the police and took shelter and called his mother over mobile phone and apprised her of the situation. She cautioned him to be careful and he assured that he would be back home soon. They did not hear anything from him thereafter, Balaiah added.
He said at around 1.25 pm his niece Subbulakshmi contacted his son on hearing about the violence in Thoothukudi on TV channels, she was watching in Chennai. This call was attended by an unknown woman who asked her to come immediately to the general hospital, Thoothukudi. His niece immediately contacted his wife and asked her to go to the GH, Thoothukudi.
He and his wife went to the GH and went ward after ward looking for their son. A nurse showed them a blood strained bag belonging to his son. When they identified the bag, she directed them to the mortuary where they saw the lifeless body of their son, he added.
He said his family has been plunged into grief as his son has been shot and killed by police even though he was not part of group of protesters. They have been asking for the body to be handed over to them to perform the last rites. They have been informed that was not possible because of interim orders passed by this court. The police also promised them to help in releasing the body and prepared a letter for him to sign. Without even reading the letter, he affixed his signature.
Later, he understood that the letter indicates that his son also participated in the agitation against Sterlite on May 22. To his knowledge, his son was not involved in any protest or agitation but was a victim of police firing only by reason of being at the wrong place at a wrong time. He requires his son's body to carry out the last rites. Therefore, he prayed the court to modify its interim order, he added.