23 January, 2021

Thoothukudi Tragedy: Listeners Peddling Narratives Of Violence

The Thoothukudi tragedy was reported through routine, cynical obscenities. Pollution is normal, while protests pollute the body politic.

Wreathed In Black
Smoke billows from the site of protests against the Sterlite unit in Thoothukudi
Photograph by PTI
Thoothukudi Tragedy: Listeners Peddling Narratives Of Violence

The Thoothukudi violence is already part of folklore. On May 22, the Tamil Nadu Police shot at a group of protestors at this coastal town, killing 13 people. The protestors demanded the closure of the Sterlite copper plant. The violence that followed convinced the UN Rapporteur General to condemn it. This essay is an attempt to see how people construct the event.

Read Also: Police Open Fire As Sterlite Protests In Tamil Nadu Turn Violent, At Least Twelve Dead

Enter the newspaper

The newspaper reports inevitably begin the same way. They describe a key event as blandly as possible and then report the reactions of witnesses, government and victims. The response, even the anger, is formulated as a collection of cliches or caveats. Each fragment has a truth content, a poignancy and yet in all these ‘first approximations’,...



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