Tuticorin deaths condemnable, but punish instigators of violence

It is unfortunate that more than a dozen lives were lost in Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, when the local police fired on agitators protesting against a Sterlite plant. The AIADMK Government has defended the police action on the ground that the protesters had turned violent and that “unavoidable circumstances” had been created. But there is material to suggest that restraint could have been exercised which would have saved lives and also contained the agitators.

Obviously, the administration there did not exhaust all other options before resorting to the drastic act of ordering the police to fire on the people. The Centre has asked the State Government for a detailed report on the incident and it is hoped that action will be taken for lapses that may have occurred. The State regime has already transferred the Collector and a senior police officer, but that alone is not enough. Meanwhile, it is also equally important to go into the cause of this sudden eruption of violence.

After all, protests had been going on against the project for months in a peaceful manner. Clearly, there had been some instigation this time around, and those instigators must be identified and punished. There are reports that extremist elements had infiltrated the protesting groups and incited the violence. We had seen a similar attempt during the protests against the Kudankulam nuclear plant in the State in the recent past. The State and Central authorities must get to the bottom of the plot and expose elements who played with the lives of the people. Some amount of politics was expected over the incident, and it is not surprising that opposition parties in Tamil Nadu such as the DMK, the PMK and the MDMK have latched on to the incident to score points over the AIADMK regime. While this is legitimate, what is not is the levelling of baseless allegations and further muddying the waters.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s accusation that the RSS was involved in the violence is one such wild attempt. He made the allegation without the slightest bit of prima facie evidence. Merely because the AIADMK Government is perceived to be friendly towards the BJP does not mean that the BJP or the RSS had a hand in the incident. The other silly charge levelled by the Congress is that because the BJP failed to form a Government in Karnataka, it resorted to violence in Tuticorin!  The people need a break from such nonsense.