Sterlite protest turns violent in Tamil Nadu, 11 killed in police firing

Sterlite protest turns violent in Tamil Nadu, 11 killed in police firing

Pablo Tucker
May 22, 2018

The protests were going on in Tuticorin for over three months now, but violence erupted on Tuesday with agitators allegedly fighting pitched battles with police, prompting it to open fire.

Palaniswami says a retired judge would inquire into the Thoothukudi police shoot-out.

Over 4,000 police personnel from the nearby district have been deployed to prevent crowding proved futile, as the protesters at various areas breached the barricades and marched forward towards the collectorate.

Several shops in Tuticorin, besides Srivaikundam and Oddapidaram remained shut in support of the protest, police said. Police units have been rushed from Madurai and Virudhunagar to bring the situation under control.

A state minister defended the actions of the police, saying that it was "unavoidable".

The protesters alleged that police had used force without provocation on the peaceful gathering. The current phase of protests are against a planned 400 ktpa brownfield expansion of the factory.

With hundreds of residents and social activists protesting, there is a heavy deployment of personnel in the coastal city.

The latest protest turned violent as a crowd waving black flags stormed the district government headquarters and an apartment block for Vedanta employees, a company official said, declining to be named for fear of being targeted.

The state government assured that an inquiry commission will be set up for investigation into the incident.

"Since the government did not take any steps in this regard, the people launched today's massive rally....police attacked people indiscriminately and opened fire on them which is condemmnable", Stalin, also the leader of the opposition in the state sssembly, told reporters in Chennai.

The Tamil Nadu government also issued a statement in which stated that Sterlite plant was functioning in the state for over 20 years and in 2013 the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered the closure of factory after people complained of irritation in their eyes after emissions from the project.

Kamal Haasan, who has recently formalized his entry into politics, expressed his solidarity with the protesters through his political party's handle.

The recent protests gathered pace after Sterlite announced plans to invest a further Rs 25 billion, in order to double the capacity of its existing facility to 800,000 tonne per annum, once the expansion was over. He said there was no point in putting up a plant near residential and agricultural zone. "The Tamil Nadu govt is responsible for the violence and the loss of lives". The plant is now non-operational and has been ordered to stay shut till June 6 as Tamil Nadu pollution control board has denied its permission for the unit to operate because of alleged non-compliance with environmental rules, Indian Express reported.

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