Protests against Vedanta copper smelter in Tuticorin turn violent

Rajnikanth and Kamal Haasan Slam TN CM Edappadi Palaniswami For Tuticorin Violence

Nine persons have been confirmed to have died in a police firing in retaliation to protests that turned violent near the Collector's office in Tuticorin during a demonstration to mark the hundredth day of protests demanding closure of UK-based Vedanta Resources subsidiary Sterlite's copper smelter in Tamil Nadu's southern district.

Thousands of protesters, especially from Kumarettiyapuram, have been up against the plant's proposed expansion plans citing the threat it poses to the people in neighbouring villages.

In view of the law and order challenge, district collector N. Venkatesh issued Section 144 in the area.

"Entering the office and violence is not acceptable. firing [opening fire] became unavoidable", fisheries minister D Jayakumar told reporters in Chennai, formerly known as Madras.

The area around the Collectorate resembled a battle-zone with the protesters setting vehicles afire and attacking policemen with stones. They had intensified protests demanding closure of the plant after reports came in that the group was seeking licence for expansion as the initial 25 year licence comes to an end. He alleged that those who were killed in the firing had bullet injuries above their waist.

Sterlite Copper, the company at the centre of the controversy, now operates a 400,000-tonne per annum unit in the city. Other parties including MDMK, CPM and VCK also blamed the government and condemned the police firing.

He said in a statement, "The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence. police had to control the violence". The protestors included activists and villagers from Kumarattiyapuram village who have been opposing the plant for over two decades as the water in the area has been contaminated due to the plant's operations.

In a statement, the state government said it would respect the wishes of the people and necessary action in the matter. The Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam (Traders Association) has called for an indefinite shutdown across Thoothukudi. Police retaliated in a bid to bring the situation under control.

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

In the meantime, the Tamil Nadu government reportedly imposed a blackout on television news channels in the Thoothukudi region that were reporting on the Sterlite protests. These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice.



Other news