Published: Tue, May 22, 2018
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Five dead in Thoothukudi after Sterlite protests turn violent

Five dead in Thoothukudi after Sterlite protests turn violent

The police then lobbed teargas shells to disperse the marching protestors from approaching the plant, NDTV reported.

In retaliation, angry protestors set Thoothukudi Collector office premises and the quarters of Sterlite employees on fire.

One of the deaths occurred near the district collectorate, where hundreds of residents had gathered even though the administration had imposed prohibitory orders in view of the scheduled protest.

Meanwhile, a state minister said that though the government appreciated the sentiments of the protesters, police firing had become "unavoidable".

According to a police officer on the spot, police swung into action when the protesters torched some vehicles in the area.

"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. Chief Minister K Palaniswami confirmed reports about the death of nine people in "police action".

As the protesters turned violent, two police jeeps were set on fire and 10 other vehicles were also damaged in the protests.

Police said almost 5000 protesters gathered near a local church and insisted on taking out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant.

At least nine people have been killed after police fired at protesters calling for the closure of a copper smelter in southern India.

Actor Rajnikanth also took to Twitter and slammed the AIADMK. The police reportedly resorted to lathi charge, and the use of tear gas and water cannons to disburse a furious crowd.

The protesters were on a rally towards the district collectorate campus opposing Sterlite Copper unit, despite section 144 being clamped in the town area. Additional police force has been rushed in from neighbouring districts to bring the situation under control. The protesters are demanding a ban on Sterlite Industries raising as they create a lot of pollution wake of the pollution created by them.

Opposition politicians blasted the government's violent response to the protests.

The government said it was committed in respecting people's aspirations and was working in sync with that. Though the plant was ordered to shut down following allegations of violating pollution control norms, the National Green Tribunal had ultimately allowed it to be reopened.

Sterlite Copper represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited which operates a 400,000 tonnes per annum-plant in Tuticorin. They claim that copper plant contaminated the groundwater and caused respiratory problems. "The plant should be shut down", opposition leader M.K. Stalin told the media. "They are the ones who lose their lives, earlier due to Sterlite and now due to the Government's orders".

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