Tuticorin streets bloodied with 9 deaths after anti-Sterlite protests turn violent

Tuticorin streets bloodied with 9 deaths after anti-Sterlite protests turn violent

The month-long protest demanding the closure of Vedanta Sterlite Copper unit took a violent turn on Monday with agitators pelting stones and toppling police vehicles after they were prevented from marching towards the plant.

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

Palaniswami said he has ordered constitution of a one- man commission under a retired high court judge to go into the incident. "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. It was supposed to be a plan for 100th day observation of the protests in front of the district collectorate in Tuticorin.

The mob retaliated with stones and set police vehicles and Sterlite employees' quarters on fire. "The gunning down by the police of nine people in ..."

Palanisamy, however, announced a compensation of Rs 10 lakh each for those killed during protest and Rs 3 lakh each for the injured, besides offering government jobs for the family members of the deceased. The police high-handedness has become the marked response of elected governments to the people's protests against massive projects as witnessed in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district and elsewhere in the country. He said almost 3,000 troops had been brought in from neighbouring districts to control the situation.

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District collector N Venkatesh issued prohibitory order section 144 in view of the scheduled protest, while granting permission to protest only at the SAV ground near Thoothukudi old bus stand, reported The New Indian Express.

Sterlite Copper unit was shut down on March 29 this year for 15 days for "maintenance work".

"These citizens were murdered for protesting against injustice. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of these martyrs and the injured", he posted on Twitter.

Local TV showed police trying to disperse the crowd with tear gas and water cannons. The locals and environmental groups are vehemently opposed to the Vedanta's Limited's highly controversial Sterlite Cooper unit, which operates a 4,00,000 Metric Tonnes Per Annum Copper Smelter, with associate facilities at Thoothukudi.

"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", Palaniswami, who holds the Home portfolio, said.

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