Rajinikanth, the veteran Tamil actor, told a commission of inquiry that he doesn’t have any evidence to prove his claim that “anti-social elements” indulged in violence during the 2018 anti-Sterlite protests in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi.
According to a report by The Hindu, the Justice Aruna Jegadeesan Commission of Inquiry’s lawyer Arul Vadivel Sekar told reporters in Thoothukudi on Thursday that Rajinikanth had submitted answers to a questionnaire prepared by the Commission.
“In his [Rajinikanth’s] reply, he stated that his address to the media after visiting the victims at the Thoothukudi Medical College and Hospital was an unscheduled one, and he had no documentary evidence to prove his assertion that the intrusion of anti-social elements into the rally had caused violence and arson,” Arul said.
He said that some clarifications were needed from the actor, and that he will be summoned later. He said 48 persons deposed at the 27th sitting held between April 19 to April 22. A total of 719 out of 1,052 people summoned had appeared before the Commission.
The police personnel on security duty during the rally, injured cops and government officials, and the then collector would be summoned for the upcoming sitting scheduled between May 17 to May 21.
In May 2018, protests erupted in Thoothukudi against Sterlite Copper, the copper branch of Vedanta Limited, over the alleged environmental damage caused by the plant and its expansion. During the protest, the police opened fire which killed 13 people.
The Justice Aruna Jegadeesan Commission was set up to probe the killing of 13 people during the protests.
After the incident, Rajinikanth visited the victims at a hospital in Thoothukudi. While talking to the reporters, he had said that “anti-social elements” led to the violence during the protest. He had demanded action be taken against the police personnel for opening fire on the protesters. However, at the same time, he had also mentioned that police must identify the people who attacked the policemen through CCTV footage and take legal action against them.
Stating that there had been no violence during the first 99 days of the protest, Rajinikanth had mentioned that anti-social elements had recently become active and praised former state chief minister J Jayalalithaa for keeping matters under control.
The commission had summoned the actor in February and December 2020. However, he did not appear before the panel. Citing health concerns, he had said that his appearance would create difficulty for the public. He, instead, sought to submit a written response to the panel’s questions.