Four years after 13 people were killed in police firing at the anti-Sterlite protest held in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district, a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) chargesheet has said there is “no criminality on the part of deputy tehsildar” in issuing the firing order. The CBI has also not booked any policemen in connection with the police firing held on May 22, 2018.
The CBI filed its second supplementary chargesheet on Thursday, May 19, three days before the fourth anniversary of the police firing. The agency investigated the case and filed the first supplementary chargesheet around a year ago. The state government had also formed a one-member commission, headed by former Judge Aruna Jagadeesan, to investigate the police firing.
Confirming that the firing order issued by the then deputy tehsildar, Sekar, who was not a designated executive magistrate for the collector office area, the CBI said in the chargesheet that the officer “went beyond duty and issued firing orders.”
However, it also said: “Hence, the investigation did not find any criminality on the part of the deputy tehsildar who issued the firing order.”
‘Firing not predetermined’
With regard to the police officials, CBI said its investigation clearly showed that the act of police firing against the protestors was not predetermined. “…the same was done only as a last resort to prevent any further untoward incidents, though the death of the 13 persons in police firing-related incidents was unfortunate,” the CBI said in the chargesheet.
“Similarly, in respect of a few police officials, department action has been recommended for the lapses on their part,” it added.
The state government had failed to gauge the sentiments and strength of the movement, noted the chargesheet.
“The imposition of prohibitory orders under Section 144 Cr PC in the late hours of May 21, 2018 i.e barely hours before the scheduled commencement of the 100th day of the protest, which was planned long back, and the lack of coordinated efforts from various sections of the government machinery has resulted in complete chaos,” the CBI’s chargesheet read.
The CBI also said that the topography of the collector’s office and the location of the Sterlite staff quarters located in front of the collector’s office in Thoothukudi compounded the issue.
CBI cites directions to TN government
The CBI confirmed that there were glaring lapses on the part of the senior revenue administration. However, it also said the government of Tamil Nadu had already been requested to take appropriate action against those whose performance of duty was not found at par with the position they held.
It may be recalled that on May 22, 2018, on the 100th day of protest against the private Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi , large scale violence broke out in which police opened fire on the protestors, killing 13 people.
The one-member commission, formed by the state government, completed its investigation and submitted its final report on May 18, a day before the second supplementary charge sheet was filed by the CBI. On the eve of the fourth anniversary of Thoothukudi violence, the state government is expected to release the outcome of the commission’s investigation.