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Eleven killed as anti-Sterlite protest turns violent in Thoothukudi

At least nine people lost their lives in police firing as protests against the Sterlite expansion plans turned violent in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. A girl was among those who died.

SNS | New Delhi | Updated :

At least eleven people lost their lives in police firing as protests against the Sterlite expansion plans turned violent in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu. A girl was among those who died.

The police, who tried to control the protesters, initially lobbed tear gas shells and resorted to baton charges. As hundreds of protesters defied prohibitory orders on the 100th day of their agitation and allegedly attacked the District Collectorate, the police resorted to firing.

The violence also left at least 60 people injured, among them were policemen. Many of them were admitted to hospitals for treatment. Protesters were seen pelting stones at the police. Vehicles were set on fire and many others were damaged.

This is the first incident of police firing on anti-Sterlite protesters, who have been agitating against the expansion plans of the Vedanta Group-run company for the last 100 days.

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

READ | Protests against Sterlite plant in Tuticorin | All you need to know

Thousands of protesters, especially from Kumarettiyapuram, have been up against the plant’s proposed expansion plans citing the threat it poses to the people in neighbouring villages. They claim that copper plant contaminated the groundwater and caused respiratory problems.

In Thoothukudi, protesters set vehicles afire and attacking policemen with stones. Plumes of black smoke emanated from the protest site. Police retaliated in a bid to bring the situation under control.

Opposition parties, some of whom have been supporting the protesters, condemned the police action and demanded the resignation of Chief Minister E Palanisamy of the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK).

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 state government assured that an inquiry commission will be set up for investigation into the incident.

The protesters have alleged that police had used force without provocation on the peaceful gathering.

Tamil Nadu Fisheries Minister D Jayakumar told reporters in Chennai that the loss of lives was unfortunate in a state known for peace.

The Tamil Nadu government also issued a statement in which stated that Sterlite plant was functioning in the state for over 20 years and in 2013 the then Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa had ordered the closure of factory after people complained of irritation in their eyes after emissions from the project.

It said in March this year, the company had applied for removal of consent to operate (CTO) for its existing smelter plant. The application has been rejected for want of more clarifications after the state pollution control board found that the factory has not fulfilled some of the major factors including non-submission of a detailed ground water analysis, action not taken to dispose waste and not building a compound wall to arrest water mixing in the nearby river.

(With inputs from agencies.)