Sunday, 24 June, 2018

Nine killed in police firing on protesters in Tamil Nadu

Anti-Sterlite protest 9 killed in Tuticorin CM Palaniswami announces compensation Opposition slams Tamil Nadu government Pic courtesy PTI
Doris Mccormick | 22 May, 2018, 21:56

'Nine people have been confirmed dead, ' said police official Kapil Kumar Saratkar.

After the police failed attempt to disperse the crowd, the protestors who were demanding the shutting down of the Sterlite Copper Smelter Plant engaged in stone pelting and torched police vehicles and two-wheelers.

About 20,000 people gathered at the protest site today and stormed the district collector's office, vandalising government property.

As the protesters turned violent, two police jeeps were set on fire and 10 other vehicles were also damaged in the protests. "I condemn the actions of the police", said Stalin.

The police force resisted the marchers and resorted to a lathi charge, reportedly to stop the marchers from entering into the Collectorate.

Chief Minister E Palaniswami, confirming the nine deaths, announced a judicial inquiry into the violence.

Reinforcements have been rushed from neighbouring districts to Tuticorin to assist the local administration in restoring normalcy.

Some senior officials have also been despatched from Chennai to the strife-torn town to assess the situation and take measures to restore calm, sources said.

TV visuals showed buildings and vehicles being set ablaze, as protests threw normal life out of gear.

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After a year of protests by the local people, who were scared of the smelter and also feared the degeneration of the fragile coastline, the Ratnagiri district collector issued a notice and asked them to cease all construction work. He further urges the government to provide Rs 1 crore for each of the deceased's family.

Opposition PMK, DMDK and MNM, besides Dravidar Kazhagam also assailed the government over the issue.

Prohibitory orders were clamped under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure in the jurisdiction of Thoothukudi South and SIPCOT police stations.

Meanwhile, another protest (peaceful) took place near the old bus stand in the town demanding the closure of the Sterlite plant, NDTV reported.

The plant, which can produce 400,000 tonnes of copper a year, has been shut for more than 50 days and will remain closed until at least June 6 because the local pollution regulator will not allow it to operate due to alleged non-compliance with environmental rules.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami said the police had to resort to firing to control the situation because the protestors indulged in violence. Following this, Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran is expected to visit the riot-hit harbour town in the evening.

With the tribunal overturning the Government Order, the state moved the Supreme Court against it, and the petition was now pending there, it added. They have always been dying, first because of the plant now because of the government's attitude.

"There is no support by the Amma government to any project that is not desired by people", he said.

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