Rev Fr Leo Jeyaseelan injured in police firing undergoing treatment at hospital.
Thoothukudi: The overkill by the social media virtually pronounced him dead as one of the 'fatal victims' of the May 22 police firing here against anti-Sterlite protesters.
Happily to one and all, those rumours were belied as Rev Fr Leo Jayaseelan, the 70-year-old Catholic clergy, is recuperating at the American Mission hospital in Thoothukudi after a bullet was removed in a surgical procedure from his right hip.
The parish priest of Thailapuram village near Nazareth in the district is doing fine, clarified the Catholic pastorate here, quelling rumours that he was possibly dead in the police firing, though he luckily suffered only an injury.
The clarification from the Catholic Church came as a huge relief as the earlier misinformation about his health condition had triggered tension not only here but also in his native village Kootapuli, a coastal hamlet in Tirunelveli district, and at the Thailapuram parish in Thoothukudi district where he works.
Even MDMK leader Vaiko was initially misled about the information circulating in social media about the highly respected Catholic priest, but all doubts "about his existence" were quickly laid to rest by the Church clarification here today.
When this reporter met the priest at the hospital, he explained what happened at the anti-Sterlite rally near the district collector's office that day. "I went along with the people only to sumbit a petition to the district collector demanding the permanent closure of the copper plant," said the priest. He, however, was in a civil dress, as the pastorate rule does not allow individual priests participate in processions like the one taken out on May 22 in clergy attire.
I expected police lathi-charge on the fateful day (May 22) as the people became unruly, but did not even imagine that the police would resort to the extreme step of resorting to firing against the people," regretted Fr Leo Jeyaseelan. The anger of the people here is so intense that they would never accept Sterlite Copper to resume operations, he emphasized.