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New Delhi: R. Jaganathan, a Tamil Nadu-based activist demanding that illegally-run stone quarries in the state be closed, was run over by a truck allegedly belonging to a quarry, on Saturday, September 10.
The incident took place near K. Paramathi village in the state’s Karur district on Saturday evening from where Jaganathan was taken to the Government Medical College Hospital but was declared dead on arrival, according to a report in The Hindu.
Local sources referred to in the newspaper said that the truck that knocked Jaganathan off his two-wheeler belonged to Annai stone quarry, which the activist was reportedly trying to get closed down for illegal operations.
What’s more, the sources said that after the collision took place, some people emerged from the truck and made sure Jaganathan was dead, after which they themselves called an ambulance to the spot.
It is worth noting that the collision took place a day after a stone quarry near Jaganathan’s residence was closed by the Department of Geology and Mining on complaints that it had been operating illegally.
Protests from activists, family
As word of Jaganathan’s death spread, local activists as well as members of the victim’s family staged a protest outside the hospital. Led by Tamil Nadu Environment Protection Movement convenor R.S. Mugilan, the protestors demanded a detailed investigation into the death, alleging retaliation for the activist’s efforts to close down the Annai quarry.
Revathy, Jaganathan’s wife, was part of the demonstrations and allegedly refused to accept her husband’s body the following day until those responsible for the killing were brought to book.
On the basis of Revanthy’s complaint, police arrested three individuals in relation to the incident – S. Selvakumar, 39, the owner of Annai quarry; Sakthivel, 24, the lorry driver; and Ranjith Kumar, 40. They were charged with Indian Penal Code Section 302 (murder).
Two of the three arrested, namely, Selvakumar and Kumar, were named as accused in a 2019 incident where Jaganathan was attacked with deadly weapons, reportedly for trying to close the same quarry. Jaganathan had been severely injured in the incident but had survived.
According to a report by the New Indian Express, the Annai quarry’s permit had expired in 2015 and had been operating illegally since. Jaganathan had filed several complaints against the quarry since, which led to the 2019 attack.
The Hindu report cites Karur superintendent of police (SP) E. Sundaravathanam as saying there was a prima facie case made out that Jaganathan was murdered for filing a complaint against the stone quarry, however, the police officer noted that more details would emerge during the course of the investigation.