Protest against Sterlite plant turns violent: police, demonstrators clash in TN

Ismael LynchMay 22, 2018

However, on Tuesday, the protesters turned violent started pelting stones, damaging police vehicle when the administration stopped them from marching towards the plant. At least 11 people were killed while over 20 were injured in alleged police firing today.

MDMK founder Vaiko, who led many anti-Sterlite protests, denounced police action, calling it "codemnable", and flaying the AIADMK government for it.

Some five years ago, hundreds of people were hospitalized after they complained of breathlessness and nausea following a gas leak from the plant. Thousands gathered to protest this morning, which marked the 100th day of a months-long movement. A large number of protestors who managed to enter the collectorate overpowering police pelted stones damaging window panes of the office building and set on fire several government vehicles and employees two-wheelers.

Protesters also ransacked the Collector's office, with black smoke engulfing the area, as demonstrators burnt tyres.

Almost 3000 police personnel have been deployed under four Additional Superintendents of Police and 13 Dy SPs to bring the situation under control, official sources said.

The Chief Minister also announced a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh each to the families of those killed, Rs 3 lakh to those seriously injured, and Rs 1 lakh for those who suffered minor injuries.

The protesters have been demanding the closure of the unit, which operates a 400,000 metric tonnes copper smelter per year, due to pollution concerns in the area and subsequent health hazards that have been linked to the plant.

In a bid to ensure that the violence was brought under control and violators are booked, the State government held a meeting presided over by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in Chennai.

"The Tamil Nadu government requests the people to accept this (assurance) and maintain peace", it said. As the protest went out of control, the police personnel from the neighbouring districts were brought in to bring the situation under control.

Following a Madras High Court directive, the district authorities had issued prohibitory orders under section 144 of CrPC, barring assembly of more than four people in and around the Sterlite plant. "They were negligent", said MK Stalin, working president of the DMK in a tweet.

Actor-turned-politician Kamal Haasan's party Makkal Needhi Maiam condemned the violence and blamed the government for its negligence, reported The Indian Express. He said, "One can't understand why the government, which gave the nod for the plant, is not taking any action and is just watching".

"The expansion (of Sterlite Copper) should not at all be allowed.if possible it will be good to close down this unit", he had told reporters in Tuticorin.

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