Anti-Sterlite protest in TN turns violent, 20 injured

Thoothukudi Sterlite protest EPS 22 May 2018

Thoothukudi Sterlite protest EPS 22 May 2018

At least nine people lost their lives in police firing as protests against the Sterlite expansion plans turned violent in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday termed the deaths of nine people in police firing during protests against the Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu a "brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism". More than 65 reported injured, including 12 who are seriously injured. It noted that in 2013, the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa ordered for the plant to be shut down after people complained of irritation in their eyes.

The 100th day of the Sterlite protest took a violent turn after local cops opened fire against protestors leading to the death of ten protestors and injuring of over 50 others.

Agitators toppled vehicles, vandalized government offices and surrounded the district collector's office.

Heavy deployment of police personnel, rushed from Madurai and Virudhunagar, tried to bring the protests under control and had even carried out cane charge and fired tear gas shells.

The Chief Minister also announced a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each to the families of those killed, Rs 3 lakh to those seriously injured, and Rs 1 lakh for those who suffered minor injuries.

"The expansion (of Sterlite Copper) should not at all be allowed".

"Entering the collector's office and (perpetrating) violence is not acceptable. People of Thoothukudi need not worry", Tamil Nadu Director General of Police TK Rajendran said, adding that the police are trying to find out if the protestors died in the firing or in stone pelting.

Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code (CrPc) has been invoked in and around the Sterlite unit to provide security to it as per the orders of the Madras High Court, said police.

He also urged people to stay calm and said that the government respects the feelings of the people and will take appropriate action on the matter. He said, "One can't understand why the government, which gave the nod for the plant, is not taking any action and is just watching". He said almost 3,000 troops had been brought in from neighbouring districts to control the situation. Other political leaders have also slammed police and the state government.

The actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan also threw his weight behind the protesters and demanded the closure of the unit.

Owing to the Anti-Sterlite campaigners' call for a massive protest against the operations of copper smelter here, several hundreds of protesters rallied to the collectorate campus here on Tuesday. Residents have been agitating against the copper plants of the company, alleging that the pollution emitted by these plants was causing severe health issues, including cancer, among the people residing in the area.

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