TUTICORIN: On his first public outreach after 13 people were killed in protests against Vedanta's Sterlite Copper smelter plant in Tuticorin, superstar Rajinikanth today blamed anti-social elements for the deaths, asked the state government to "come down hard" on them and underlined that Tamil Nadu will turn into a graveyard if people hit the roads to protests at the drop of a hat.
- Rajinikanth blamed anti-social elements for 13 deaths in Tuticorin
- Rajinikanth dismissed protests against police excesses
- Too many protests will stop investors from coming to Tamil Nadu
Rajinikanth's stance holding anti-social elements responsible for the violence mirrors the ruling AIADMK government's line. In Tuticorin, it touches a raw nerve in the port city where people have alleged the police indulged in attacks on protesters and torching of vehicles to create a situation to open fire.
When reporters asked Rajinikanth how he blamed anti-social elements, the actor-politician, however, lost his cool. "Don't ask me how I know, I know all of that," he shot back. He went on to declare that he would not accept people who harm people in uniform and dismissed protests against police excesses.
"If people go out and start protests for everything, then entire Tamil Nadu will become a grave yard!" the actor, who had announced his political plunge five months ago, said. Unlike Kamal Haasan who has launched his party, the superstar is, however, seen to be hesitant about his political career.
His visit to Tuticorin, officially called Thoothukudi, was, in many ways, his first political journey.
Ten people were killed on the day of the shootings, and a further three have died since, making this one of the most deadly environmental protests in India since the death of 14 people in West Bengal's Nandigram protests in 2007 against the government's plan to acquire land for industries.
This week, the government ordered closure of the plant for good but opposition parties and many experts contend that the order issued by the ruling AIADMK did not sufficiently make out a case, letting the London-listed Vedanta Resources to get relief from court.
Rajinikanth said the Sterlite copper plant should not approach the court to get the Tamil Nadu government's closure order scrapped, saying "they are not humans if they do so."
"With so many deaths and injuries, they should not even think of doing that," he said, adding, nothing can stand before people's power.
But he also cautioned against a spike in the number of protests, pointing that these could dissuade trade and investors from coming to Tamil Nadu and affect employment opportunities.
Continuous agitations may not yield solutions and one should move courts for redressal of their grievances, he said.