Activists and social workers in Tamil Nadu's Karur are up in arms against top district administration officials, following the murder of farmer and quarry scam whistleblower R. Jagannathan who was run over by a truck, allegedly by the local quarry mafia last month.
Jagannathan was fighting against illegal mining activities at Paramathi village near Kalipalayam in Karur, and had taken on limestone quarry, Annai Blue Metal quarry that has been functioning in the area since 2015 without a proper license.
Jagannathan had, during the Gram Sabha meeting, passed a resolution to shut down the Annai Blue Metal stone quarry and it was shut down on September 8. On September 10, Jagannathan was run over by a truck while he was riding a bike and police arrested Selva Kumar, owner of the Annai Blue Metal quarry, on charges of murdering him.
Local people and activists demanded the formation of a fact-finding team under the supervision of local MLA Abdul Samad. The team, comprising eight members, found that the quarry was operating without any proper license and that many other quarries were also operating in the area without any license and even name boards. The quarries were also digging more than 500 feet depth which was beyond the permitted level.
G. Mohan, a relative of Jagannathan, told IANS that Jagannathan "was relentlessly fighting against this quarry mafia which was creating problems to the agriculture in the area".
"He has been complaining since 2019 against this quarry and it was once shut down and Selva Kumar had twice threatened him with dire consequences. He had escaped two attempts to his life. However on September 10, he was not lucky and the truck ran over him and he died on the spot."
While Selvakumar is in judicial custody, local people demand that all the illegal quarries are shut down and the people behind illegal quarrying be brought before justice.
The activists and social workers also demanded a solatium of Rs 19 lakh to the family of the deceased and to collect this money from the officials whose lethargy led to the murder of the whistleblower.
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