Rajinikanth's new plan...Will it work out?

Nearly three years after inviting legal consequences for his assertion that the anti-social elements were infringed in the Sterlite protests in Thoothukudi, Rajinikanth has been failing to appear before the special investigative committee that has been probing the police shooting into the protesters that killed at least 13 people. Rajinikanth is mulling to unfold his plan of appearing before the committee through video-conferencing. 

The police firing against the anti-Sterlite protestors has been probed by the commission led by retired Justice Aruna Jegadeesan and the commission had directed Rajinikanth to appear before it in Thoothukudi after the actor claimed that the anti-social elements had instigated communal riots and he further asserted that he had evidence to prove his claim that anti-social elements had infringed into the protests. 

The police shooting had happened in May 2018 when thousands of people in Thoothukudi were protesting to shut down the Sterlite Copper Plant that spoils the air and water and threatens their lives. They were incessantly protesting for nearly 100 days and when the protests grew stronger, the police opened fire on the protestors and killed 13 people. As the incident had sparked outrage with many activists described that Tamil Nadu has become a police state and they had demanded justice for the victims.  

Rajinikanth went to Thoothukudi following the shooting and he visited the people who sustained injuries during the police firing. After visiting them, the actor claimed that the anti-social elements had incited the riots and added that he had evidence to support his allegations. Rajinikanth's statement had stirred a shock and when the demand for justice has got intensified, the government has set up a special investigative committee to probe the incident. 

The committee had summoned Rajinikanth to appear for investigation for his assertion on the police firing. However, he skipped from appearing in person and the proceedings of the committee were halted in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown. The committee had resumed its operations late last year and it had issued a fresh summon to Rajinikanth to appear for the investigation on Tuesday. However, the actor had again skipped from appearing before the commission. 

On Tuesday, in place of Rajinikanth, his counsel Ilambharathi had appeared and filed an affidavit stating that the actor would appear before the panel through video-conferencing. According to reports, the commission has a video-conferencing facility in its Chennai office. The commission could instruct the actor to appear in person in the Chennai office or conduct the questioning through video conferencing. Rajinikanth's counsel said that the actor would appear for video-conferencing after two months.

The actor has cited his health condition and requested for appearing virtually. Speaking to the media after submitting the affidavit, Ilambharthi said that trials in most cases are being conducted through video-conferencing currently and if Rajinikanth's request is accepted, he could be questioned virtually after two or three months. The reports say that the actor has already answered a questionnaire sent by the commission in March and asserted that he is ready to answer fresh questions. 

Rajinikanth has been advised to be in complete rest and the doctors had advised him to avoid any situations that would make him more vulnerable to COVID-19. The actor was hospitalized in Hyderabad for two days after he reported high blood pressure and he had even said that he won't be entering politics owing to his health condition. The committee has sent its first summon to Rajinikanth in February 2020 but the actor had skipped the summon by citing that his appearance in Thoothukudi could cause inconvenience to the public. The committee issued the second summon on December 21, 2020, asking the actor to appear on January 19.