New Delhi: Calling owners of Sterlite Copper plant "inhumane", actor-turned-politician Rajinikanth on Wednesday said that the plant should not be opened again. He asked the state government to "come down hard" on the anti-social elements, who indulged in violence in Thoothukudi.
"This incident is a big lesson for the government. No one had expected so much violence. I am sure intelligence people will have reports," Rajinikanth said, adding that people know everything and they will reply when time comes. However, the actor-turned-politician said that demanding resignation for every issue is not the solution.
"There is nothing greater than people's might. So people shouldn't let Sterlite take the case to the higher courts and even think of restarting the industry," he said.
Rajinikanth also demanded action against senior police officers for opening fire on protesters participating in the anti-Sterlite agitation in Tuticorin. However, he said, that the people who had hit the policemen should also not be spared.
"Higher officials who were involved in police firing should be punished. But we should also take action against the people who hit the policemen. Even they shouldn't be spared," he said, adding that the pictures of these men should be published in newspapers and TV channels.
“As of now, government order will suffice, but state government should also take legal recourse if a need arises,” he told CNN-News18 on his way to the hospital. The actor had earlier visited the hospital where the injured were admitted, and termed it as a "goodwill gesture".
Meanwhile, the actor has also announced a compensation of Rs 2 lakh for those who died in the Tuticorin protests and Rs 10,000 for the injured.
The protests that were continuing for the last three months turned violent on May 22 after scores of agitators allegedly hurled stones at police forces, “prompting them to open fire”. The locals have alleged that the plant of Sterlite Copper is responsible for rising levels of pollution and they have been demanding its closure.
The killing of 13 people in police action against Sterlite protesters on May 22-23 rocked the state Assembly a day earlier, which met after a gap of over two months to pass the budgetary demands of different departments, with members of the main opposition DMK staging a demonstration and saying they would boycott the proceedings until the unit was shut permanently.
Chief Minister K Palaniswami, meanwhile, put up a strong defence of his government and police, insisting the action by men in uniform had become "unavoidable".
The chief minister also tabled a report in the House on incidents that occurred in the port city on May 22, and said police burst teargas shells and baton-charged the violent protesters to control the situation, but it vain.
He said vehicles parked in the residential quarters at Sterlite Copper plant were set on fire. The protesters also damaged Tuticorin South Police Station and the industries department office. All efforts were made to rein in the protesters and safeguard lives and property, but "due to unavoidable circumstances, police personnel were forced to take action".
Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit had also visited the families of those killed in police firing on Tuesday and met the injured at a government hospital at Tuticorin.