Thoothukudi: Four days after it was rocked by violence during protests against a copper plant, Thoothukudi on Saturday returned to near normalcy with operation of state-run buses and availability of all essential commodities, though authorities were maintaining a tight vigil to prevent any fresh flare up.
Police have deployed drones in select locations to monitor the situation as part of efforts to maintain law and order in the district where 13 people were killed in police firing during anti-Sterlite plant protests on Tuesday. Internet services suspended in Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts on May 23 have been restored. District Collector Sandeep Nanduri told reporters that government buses are being operated "100 per cent" and all essential commodities, including milk and vegetables, were available.
"Private mini buses will be operational by evening," he said, adding talks for restoration of services with bank authorities and petrol pump dealers have concluded. Bank branches, ATMs and retail fuel outlets would be fully operational very soon, he said. "If you see, the city has now come to 90 per cent normalcy, people are going about their daily activities and we are confident that it will be 100 per cent normal within a day or two," he said. Along with district authorities, including Superintendent of Police Murali Rambha, he was interacting with with people, Nanduri said and expressed confidence that "very soon a friendly ambience would be restored". "We are for the people," he stressed . Declining to answer a question on the violence, he said retired Justice Aruna Jagadeesan Inquiry Commission constituted by the state government is expected to start its proceedings soon in this regard.
Superintendent of Police Murali Rambha denied any illegal detention of protestors and added that all those arrested in connection with cases were produced before the court. So far, 145 persons had been arrested and remanded in judicial custody in connection with the riots and a section of them had got bail, he said.
"When the situation keeps improving, the strength of police personnel posted in the city will be gradually reduced," he said. On restoration of internet services in Thoothukudi, the Collector said the "situation is being monitored" and added that higher government officials would take a decision in this regard. Internet services were yesterday restored in neighbouring Kanyakumari and Tirunelveli districts.
Tamil Nadu Congress Committee President Su Thirunavukkarasar demanded a compensation of Rs one crore to the kin of victims of police firing. "Cases filed against the protestors should be withdrawn. Those arrested should be released and the Sterlite copper plant must be permanently closed," he said.
Violence erupted when a massive gathering of people took out a rally against the Sterlite copper plant here on May 22. In the police firing that day and on May 23, 13 people were killed. Protest demonstrations, meanwhile, were held today in Chennai and Nagapattinam against the police firing. — PTI