The Tuticorin massacre and Modi’s India
26 May 2018
On Saturday, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the rest of the leadership of the Hindu supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) celebrated the fourth anniversary of their assuming office with speeches hailing India’s “progress.”
Progress for whom? The barbarity of social life and class relations in contemporary India were laid bare in Tuesday’s police massacre of working people demanding the closure of a copper smelter that has long befouled Tuticorin, Tamil Nadu, polluting its groundwater and environs with toxic chemicals.
The massacre, which left 12 people dead and more than 60 others injured, had all the hallmarks of a state provocation. Tamil Nadu authorities criminalized the protest days in advance, claiming it represented a threat to “public order.”
They deployed 1,500 police officers who quickly set upon the “illegal” demonstration, then resorted to deadly force when the bigger-than-anticipated crowd of 20,000 fought back. Violating their own procedures, police fired no warning shots and targeted those at the head of the protest for death. As video and eyewitness evidence and, most tellingly, the victims’ bodies attest, police snipers aimed for protesters’ heads and torsos, not their legs.
While people in Tamil Nadu and across India voiced outrage over the police’s actions, the Modi regime and Tamil Nadu’s AIADMK state government, a close ally of the BJP, quickly proclaimed the Tuticorin atrocity a necessary and proportionate use of force and plotted further repression and violence. This included: cutting off all access to social media and the Internet for five days in the state’s three southernmost districts, placing the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force on standby for…