TN: Several killed in police-firing as Sterlite protests turn violent
Eight people were killed as police allegedly opened fire on activists protesting the Sterlite copper-plant in Tuticorin, TN. After opposing the plant's expansion for months, nearly 20,000 angry locals gathered today, setting property on fire and pelting stones at policemen. Senior minister Jayakumar said police had to fire as the protests were "extremely violent". But the government has now promised legal action against Sterlite.
Visuals from the spot
Why is Tuticorin protesting?
Since long, residents have been demanding the closure of Sterlite Copper, the copper unit of Vedanta, alleging pollution caused by it is hampering the water quality in the area and seriously harming health. Demonstrations turned more intense recently after the company announced plans of expansion of its 400,000-tonne per annum unit. Sterlite insists it has necessary permits and isn't violating any norms.
Agitators vandalize property, set vehicles ablaze, police respond with teargas
Today, violence broke out after protesters were reportedly stopped from marching to the plant. Agitators toppled vehicles, vandalized government offices and surrounded the district collector's office. Shops closed shutters. Police resorted to lathicharge, tear gas and water cannons, but have denied using bullets. Many are still critical. Meanwhile, Section 144 has been imposed in and around Sterlite, according to the Madras HC's orders.
A statement by Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam
'One can't understand why the government is just watching'
Opposition parties blamed the ruling AIADMK for the crisis. "Negligence of the Governments is the reason for all the unfortunate events," said Kamal Haasan's Makkal Needhi Maiam. "One can't understand why the government, which gave the nod for the plant, is not taking any action and is just watching," Rajinikanth had tweeted earlier this year. DMK's MK Stalin too condemned the "police atrocities."