TUTICORIN: Retired high court judge Aruna Jagadeesan, who was appointed by the Tamil Nadu government as the one-man commission to probe the police firing and killings of 13 people during the anti-Sterlite protest in Tuticorin on May 22, visited the injured and began preliminary inquiries.
The retired judge assured secrecy on the identity of those testifying before the commission and a fair probe to ensure that justice is not denied.
Talking to reporters, she said the deadline for submitting written affidavits on the incident had been extended from June 22 to June 30.
“Affidavits can be submitted at the head office of the commission at Greenways Road, Kumarasamy Raja Road, NCB 28, or the camp office in Tuticorin at the Old Circuit House. The offices will remain open from 10.30am to 6pm and those feeling uncomfortable to submit the affidavits in Tuticorin can do so in Chennai,” she said.
Four staff members, including a retired district judge and a retired court staff and two government staffs deputed from the district collectorate, will be present at the camp office here from Monday.
The judge said those who have seen the incidents in person, affected persons and their kin and others who have a fair idea on the incidents including those from voluntary organisations could submit the affidavits.
The retired judge said that they had not received affidavits till date. On receiving affidavits, they will be segregated into three phases and the persons inquired individually.
“Those injured in the incident, kin of those who got killed and the public will be inquired in the first phase. In the second phase eyewitnesses, activists, those who know about the incident and journalists will be inquired,” Aruna Jagadeesan said.
In the third and final phase, the commission will probe the police, those who are accused of firing at the public, police officers, those who gave orders, doctors who treated the victims in the government hospital, doctors who conducted autopsy on the bodies of the victims and the then district collector N Venkatesh and then superintendent of police P Mahendran.
The former high court judge said that the commission had asked unedited videos on the incident from the police and other government sources and made an appeal to journalists to submit unedited videos and photographs they had taken on the incidents before and during the riots and police firing.
“I will be in Tuticorin for three to four days every week when the probe commences,” she said.
Responding to allegations by leaders of various opposition political parties that they don’t have faith on the commission headed by her as it could be in favour of the state government, she assured a truthful and just probe. “Such baseless allegations need not be taken seriously. I will do justice to the job entrusted to me,” she added.
She held discussions with district collector Sandeep Nanduri and the superintendent of police Murali Rambha. She visited the injured persons undergoing treatment in the Thoothukudi Medical College and Hospital. “I will try to meet families of those who got killed in the firing, today,” she added.
On Tuesday, the commission will visit places affected by the violence including the district collectorate, the neighbouring Sterlite employees’ quarters and the VVD Signal where the riots began.