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Justice Aruna Jagadeesan Commission of Inquiry submits its report on the Thoothukudi firing

Published : May 18, 2022 19:45 IST T+T-
Justice Aruna Jagadeesan (left) handing over the interim report to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on May 14.

Justice Aruna Jagadeesan (left) handing over the interim report to Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on May 14.

The Justice Aruna Jagadeesan Commission of Inquiry (CoI) has submitted its final report on the Thoothukudi firing in which 13 people were killed and more than 100 injured on May 22, 2018.

The commission was constituted by the then AIADMK government to inquire into the details of the police firing which resulted in the killing of civilians who were protesting against industrial pollution in the city, allegedly caused by the Vedanta’s Sterlite’s copper smelter plant at Thoothukudi. The report of the commission was handed over to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin at the Chennai Secretariat on May 18 by Justice Aruna Jagadeesan, a former Madras High Court judge. Chief Secretary V. Irai Anbu was also present.

The commission, which has had two extensions because of the COVID-19 pandemic, took four years to complete its inquiry. However, it had submitted an interim report to the government in May 2021 in which it had identified the injured victims and those who had lost employment opportunities because of police interrogations and recommended the government to provide adequate compensation to them. Accordingly, the State government had distributed compensation and issued no objection certificates to pursue education to many youths who were detained by the police in the aftermath of the violence.

The commission’s first sitting was held on August 9, 2018 at Thoothukudi. It held its sittings both at Chennai and at Thoothukudi during which it summoned around 1,500 people, of whom 1,048 had deposed before it. Around 800 people were interviewed, including 255 from both police and other State government streams. The material evidence collected and marked included 1,544 documents, based on which the detailed final report was prepared.

Justice Aruna Jagadeesan said the report consisted of 3,000 pages, split into five parts. The first two parts dealt with public unrest and violence in Thoothukudi preceding the firing while the third part contained its findings and suggestions to the government. The fourth part contained recommendations on how to prevent such incidents in future and suggestions for the general public on how to organise and participate in such mass protests. The fifth part contained 1,500 video clips, statements of 1,500 witnesses, and the transcripts of interviews held with 1,500 police personnel who were on duty on the day of firing.

Top officials who were summoned included former Chief Secretary Girija Vaidhyanathan, former Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran, Home Secretary Niranjan Mardi and a few other senior police and revenue officers.

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