9 die in police firing in southern India

Glen Mclaughlin
May 23, 2018

The TN government must take action over the concerns expressed by the protesters, they said.

Sterlite Copper, the company at the centre of the controversy, now operates a 400,000-tonne per annum unit in the city.

The protests have been going on in the city for the past three months, but intensified in the last couple of days, following reports that the company owning the copper smelting plant was seeking renewal of its licence for another 25 years.

Protesters had torched several vehicles and also pelted stones on the police personnel, forcing the police to retaliate as also to bring the situation under control.

The protesters took out a procession towards the collectorate defying prohibitory orders in the area, said the chief minister, adding that they not only threw stones at policemen but also set on fire their vehicles.

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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. Meanwhile, opposition parties, led by DMK, were quick to attack the state government for its failure in handling the issue.

Protesters in Tuticorin had planned to gherao the plant - property of the Vedanta group - as well as the collector's office. "Tamil Nadu Government should take the responsibility for the loss of life, and violence in Tuticorin". The Tamil Nadu Vanigar Sangam (Traders Association) has called for an indefinite shutdown across Thoothukudi. This is unpardonable. People of Tamil Nadu will not forget this violation of their dignity and life.

On the other hand, Congress president Rahul Gandhi termed the deaths a "brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism". Speaking to media, Stalin said he will visit Tuticorin where nine people died during an anti-Sterlite protest.

The party in its statement said, "The peaceful protest by the people of Tuticorin against Sterlite, demanded justice was ignored by the Governments".

While wishing all the injured a speedy recovery, Mr Palaniswami said government jobs would be given to one member of the deceased families based on their qualifications on compassionate grounds. "At this critical hour, I appeal to all sections of society to be calm and help in maintaining the peace in the state", he said in a Raj Bhavan release. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister EK Paliniswami expressed grief over the deaths but justified the police action, stating that they had to open fire under "unavoidable circumstance".

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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