Rajinikanth, the veteran Tamil actor, has been summoned by the Justice Aruna Jegadeesan Commission to give a deposition onJanuary 19, 2021 in the case of the Thoothukudi police firing during the 2018 anti-Sterlite protests in Tamil Nadu, reported ANI on Monday.
The actor had said that “anti-social elements” were involved in the firing, which resulted in the death of 13 persons.
In May 2018, protests against the copper branch of Vedanta Limited, Sterlite Copper, erupted in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, because of concerns over the environmental damage caused by the plant and its expansion. During the protest, the police opened fire and killed 13 people. The police subsequently said that they had fired because the Collector’s office was under threat from protestors.
Rajinikanth initially condemned the police firing, and said on social media that it was an unfortunate incident and that the state government was responsible for the loss of lives during the firing. However, he then modified his statement after a visit to the protest site, and blamed “anti-social elements” for having infiltered the protest and triggering the violence. He said that the same occurred during the 2017 pro-Jallikattu protests.
In his statement, Rajinikanth said that there had been no violence or bloodshed in the first 99 days of the anti-Sterlite protest, and that it had been a silent protest. Only after anti-social elements infiltrated the agitation did things go out of control, he said. He further said that these elements had become active only in recent times and praised late Chief Minister Jayalalithaa for having kept the situation under control during her tenure.
This is the second time that the committee has summoned the actor to appear before it. Earlier, the judge had summoned him on February 25, 2020. However, the actor did not appear, claiming that his appearance would trigger public inconvenience due to his crowd-pulling capacity. He, instead, submitted a written statement.
Meanwhile, the actor has recently announced that his long-awaited political party would be launched in January 2021. Promising that the party would establish a “corruption-free” government free of religious and caste discrimination, Rajinikanth said that the date of the launch would be announced on December 31.