NEEDED: FUNDS TO COVER COSTS OF PEOPLE’S INQUEST IN THOOTHUKUDI
TARGET: Rs. 500,000 (5 lakhs)
Account Name: J. Sumitha*A/c number: 174100650300621
Bank Name/Branch: Tamilnad Mercantile Bank, Kamaraj College Campus, Tiruchendur Road, Thoothukudi 628003
IFSC: TNBL0000174. MICR Code: 627060011

*Sumitha is an advocate with the Thoothukudi Bar Association whose account will be used for the purposes of gathering funds for the Inquest

Public Inquest into the Thoothukudi Police Firings

On May 22 and 23, 2018, Thoothukudi police fired on local residents protesting against the pollution by Vedanta Ltd’s Sterlite Copper. At least 13 people were killed and scores injured. In the days that followed, the Police turned off the internet and conducted a “cleansing” operation, combing through neighbourhoods, dragging out young boys to the police station. Reports of illegal detentions, torture and custodial violence followed.

The various facets of the week-long orgy of violence indulged in by the Tamil Nadu police are still hidden and only known anecdotally. A pre-liminary fact-finding in Thoothukudi is currently underway at the behest of the Coordinating Committee for the People’s Inquest into the Thoothukudi Police Firing (தூத்துக்குடி துப்பாக்கிசூடு மக்கள் விசாரணை ஒருங்கிணைப்பு குழு). The Coordination Committee, convened by Head of the Thoothukudi Bar Association Adv. A.W.D. Tilak, has representatives of Thoothukudi’s civil society, including from among merchants, business people, farmers and fisherfolk.

The fact-finding exercise will culminate in a People’s Inquest in Thoothukudi on 2-3 June, 2018. The Inquest will be conducted by a national panel comprising retired members of the judiciary, police and administration, in addition to lawyers, academicians and journalists.

The Inquest is expected to

  • Ascertain the facts that led to the continued protests in Tuticorin.

  • Ascertain the facts and circumstances of the incidents that led to the police firing by gathering statements from eye-witnesses, families of the deceased and injured, representatives of the Anti-Sterlite protest committee and meeting the officials from Tuticorin district administration, Tuticorin district police department.

  • Ascertain who authorized the firing and under what circumstances.

  • Gather information about the actions, if any, taken by the Government of Tamil Nadu, Tuticorin district administration, police department to avert the firing.

  • Compile and analyse the available documents, evidences from various government departments, Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Boars, petitions, affidavits, evidences, and judgments in the High Court and Supreme Court regarding the firing incident and the Sterlite Copper plant in Tuticorin

  • To suggest legal remedies and means to enforce accountability on the various state actors.

The report of the People’s Inquest will be:

  • submitted to the National Human Rights Commission, which has suo motu issued notice to the Government of Tamil Nadu.

  • used to advocate for an independent investigation.

  • submitted to the commission of enquiry set up by the Government of Tamil Nadu.

  • used for legal interventions in individual cases and if required in the Madras High Court and Supreme Court.

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