Actor Rajinikanth is at the receiving end for a change, as the Aruna Jagadeesan Commission has pulled him up for his remarks on the Thoothukudi police firing issue in Tamil Nadu, blaming anti-social elements for the violence.
“A popular actor of the stature of Mr. Rajinikanth is not expected to act on the spur of the moment. When he makes a statement to which gullible public attach significance, he is to be sure of the source of the information,” the Commission report (tabled in the Tamil Nadu Assembly on October 18, 2022) said, adding that “arbitrary, capricious and whimsical statements trotted out by celebrities could mislead people and create more problems.”
“Celebrities should act with restraint and with a sense of responsibility,” the Commission stated.
“The ipse-dixit of individuals has no place in the public domain and is to be scrupulously avoided, more so in the case of film celebrities and those in public life,” the Commission observed.
Soon after the Thoothukudi police fired at anti-Sterlite plant protesters on May 22, 2018, in which 13 persons were killed, Rajinikanth, contrary to the statements made by various political parties condemning the police action, chose to blame anti-social elements for infiltration and the violence. Continuous protests will turn Tamil Nadu into a graveyard, Rajinikanth had said. This drew a volley of protests in the social media. Later, the Commission issued summons to him, asking him to depose before the panel on his views.
Rajinikanth, in response to the Commission’s summons, had sought permission to respond to a questionnaire. On receiving the questions, he submitted his reply.
In an affidavit submitted through his lawyer to the Justice Aruna Jagadeesan Commission of Inquiry into the police firing, the actor said he did not have any documentary evidence to prove his claim that anti-social elements had indulged in violence during the protest demanding closure of the Sterlite copper smelter in Thoothukudi on May 22, 2018.
The commission then said it would summon the actor to get “a few more clarifications” based on his reply.
The commission asked Rajinikanth to share evidence. The actor did not turn up before the commission on a few occasions, contending that his appearance would cause hardship to the people. Later, he cited COVID-19 for his inability to depose.
As for the statements made by actor Rajinikanth regarding the incident, the Commission said when given a questionnaire as to whether the actor viewed any video footage or CCTV recordings of the incident, he answered in a “circuitous fashion”, thereby confirming he did not have any materials to make such comments.