Thoothukudi’s Anti-Sterlite People’s Movement along with the solidarity of several organisations is holding a global online hunger strike, for justice against Sterlite.
The movement have called for a global day of action on May 22nd to hold Vedanta and the state accountable for the Thoothukudi Massacre three years ago. The hunger strike has been termed as a “stay at home satyagraha” whereby people can register on an online platform (JusticeAction.cc), to fast for a day between 12th May to 22nd May, so as to provide support to the demands put forth to the new government.
Some of these demands include prosecution of Vedanta, dropping all charges against protesters, and speeding up inquiries about human rights violations and police brutality that took place on and after May 22nd, 2018. The campaign seeks to invite healthy people above the age of 18 to partake in the fast to show support to the movement.
The campaign as part of its 10 day protest, aims to bring out Vedanta’s environmental and social cruelties in every location it has set up operations. On 14th May people from communities impacted by Vedanta’s operations such as those in Talwandi Sabo, Punjab, Udaipur, Rajasthan, Korba, Chattisgarh, and Chingola, Zambia, will speak on the ways in which the company’s operations have affected them, socially and environmentally.
Fatima Babu, coordinator of the Anti-Sterlite People’s Movement, in a statement on the demands, mentions how the previous government, despite having shut down operations of Vedanta, citing fraud, pollution, unlicensed operations and causing a massive gas leak, failed to take any legal action against the company.
“On the contrary, it opened fire and killed innocent protesters and registered cases against 71 people for demanding clean air. We urge the new Chief Minister to follow the law and prosecute Vedanta and its directors for offences under environmental laws and the Indian Penal Code. This would go a long way in comforting the city that has lost 15 lives.”
In a statement released by the Anti-Sterlite People’s Movement, they have put forth the following demands:
1. Ensure that Vedanta does not return to Thoothukudi
2. Prosecute Vedanta and its directors for fraud and violation of environmental laws
3. Identify and take action against police persons responsible for the 2018 massacre
4. Withdraw all cases against Thoothukudi residents filed to cover up the state’s collusion with Vedanta and complicity in the violence.
5. Ask the National Human Rights Commission to reopen the Thoothukudi enquiry, and make public its findings.
6. Direct Justice Aruna Jagadeesan committee to examine witnesses online to expedite finalisation of the enquiry into the Thoothukudi massacre.
It has been three years since the violence that took place on 22nd May, when police opened fire on those protesting against Sterlite’s Copper pollution. 13 people were killed and several hundreds were gravely injured. In addition the police illegally detained and tortured many of the protesters.
While the state government shut down operations of the copper smelter, the SC has given permission to the company to operate a closed oxygen plant. Till date no police officers have been charged for the excesses and violence that took place on the 22nd May 2018.