Adv. Vanchinathan of Madurai who has been counsel for many cases filed on behalf of Thoothukudi citizens and anti Sterlite protest groups, has been arrested at 01.00 am today by Chennai police. This is a direct assault on lawyers practicing in the human rights field and should be strongly opposed. The TN government and the police are trying to silence all democratic forces and produce a chilling effect to scare other lawyers from appearing in sensitive cases challenging undemocratic and anti-constitutional policies and actions of the government.
Advocate Vanchi nathan was arrested in Chennai Airport for Tutucorin incident in Crime no. 190 of 2018 Sipcot Police station u/sec 147, 148, 188, 353, 506 (2) and sec. 3 TNPPDL Act. He is the State Co-ordinator of People’s Right Protection Center and practicing law at Madurai Bench of Madras High Court at Madurai. It is the cowardice act of Tamil Nadu government killing the innocent unarmed people of thoothukudi and putting blame on public spirited activist who helped the people of thoothukudi legally and morally.
A lawyer accused of involvement in the protests against Sterlite Copper’s smelter in Tamil Nadu’s Thoothukudi district last month was arrested on Wednesday night at the Chennai airport, ANI reported.
Thirteen people agitating against the expansion of the smelter were killed in police firing on May 22 and May 23. Several people were arrested for rioting, burning vehicles on the collectorate campus, stone pelting and damaging public property.
The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court had on Monday dismissed S Vanchinathan’s petition for anticipatory bail. Another advocate, K Hariragavan, booked with Vanchinathan, was also denied anticipatory bail.
The advocates had said they had not indulged in violence during the protests and that they were present at the spot only to provide legal assistance to protestors, according to The New Indian Express. The state government, however, accused them of violating prohibitory orders and instigating protestors. The government claimed that the police had taken action only after a mob destroyed 200 vehicles and nearly 72 policemen were injured.
The court said the advocates should not shy away from a police inquiry. They took a lead role in organising the protests, though they cannot be blamed for the violence, the court said.
Police had earlier booked the two advocates under various sections of the Indian Penal Code for rioting, assault of public servants, criminal intimidation, and under the Tamil Nadu Public Property (Prevention of Damage and Loss) Act, 1992.
For more than two decades, activists in Thoothukudi have accused Sterlite of contaminating the region’s air and water resources, and causing breathing disorders, skin diseases, heart conditions and cancer. Since February, there were large-scale protests against the company’s copper smelter, which had the capacity to produce 4.38 lakh tonnes of anodes per annum, or 1,200 tonnes per day.
Police have registered more than 10 cases against the advocates – S Vanchinathan of Madurai and Hari Raghavan of Tuticorin, alleging that the duo played a major role in engineering the protests. Both the advocates are functionaries of an outfit – Makkal Urimai Paadhugaapu Maiyam. Tuticorin police had booked cases under various sections of IPC including 506 (2) (Criminal intimidation), 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging duty) and Section 3 of the Tamil Nadu Property (prevention of damages and loss) act. While Hari Raghavan practices before the district court in Tuticorin, Vanchinathan is an advocate at the Madurai bench.