Anti-Sterlite Protesters Shot On Head & Chest Violating Police Standing Order; CBI Begins Investigation
After seven months, the autopsy reports show that of the 13 killed by police firing, 12 died after being hit by bullets in the head or chest and half of them were shot from behind, as reported by Reuters. Reportedly, the autopsy report showed that two protesters died after bullets pierced the sides of their heads.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has begun its probe into this. The documents related to 15 weapons used in the firing has been collected by the CBI.
Hit by bullets in head or chest
These reports were produced by forensic medicine experts from several government hospitals. These reports were not published before. J. Snowlin, who was the youngest protester to be killed was 17-year-old. The autopsy report found that bullet entered back of her head and exited through her mouth. Forensic medicine experts who examined her body said that the reason that is likely to have caused her death is cardio-pulmonary arrest owing to the bullet injury to the back of the neck.
When Reuters visited her family, Snowlin’s mother said that they hadn’t accepted the autopsy report. Of the eight people killed from bullets piercing through their head or body from behind or side, Jansi, who is 40-year-old was shot just a few hundred meters away from her residence. Mani Rajan, 34, was killed due to penetrating injury to the brain caused by firearm bullet injury to the right side of the forehead. The head of the forensic science department at the Thoothukudi Medical College refused to comment on the autopsy findings.
This is with complete disregard to the Police Standing Orders in Tamil Nadu which directs to aim low, preferably below waist level. It is ordered to direct towards the most unrest part of the mob.
CBI Officials begin investigation
The shooting was triggered when protesters started marching towards local government headquarters in Thoothukudi. They were demanding to shut the Vedanta Resources’s copper smelter in the region due to environmental concerns. The Central Bureau of Investigation is inspecting the shooting.
As of now, no police officers have been charged or arrested on the matter. The Tamil Nadu state government after the incident said that owing to unavoidable circumstances the government had to take such steps. CBI officials investigating the case ignored to respond after the autopsy findings.
In June, four senior officials who were present in the site said that they were forced to fire live ammunition to control the amock crowd threatening a Vedanta employees’ apartment building.
The Vedanta smelter
Authorities in Tamil Nadu ordered permanent closure of Vedanta smelter after the May 22 protests. However, on December 15, the ruling was overturned by India’s green court. A three-member team of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has said that the abrupt closure of Vedanta’s Sterlite Copper Smelting Plant in Thootukudi was “unjustified”. Former Chief Justice of Meghalaya High Court Tarun Agarwal who headed the committee submitted a report. The NGT reading out from the report said that the sudden closure of the copper smelting unit goes against “natural justice”. The most important point raised by NGT was the lack of notice provided to the company ahead of the sealing.
On December 21, the state high court has deferred the firm to open for another month.
A state government documents revealed that the fifteen police weapons were discharged. It is found that 30 of 69 live bullets were fired from three SLRs. According to the Reuters report, cops fired extra four rounds from .303 rifles 12 shots from .410 weapons. The Police Standing Orders state that use of .303 and .40 rifles should by the last option against a violent crowd.