Eleven people including a teenager were killed on Tuesday during a protest held in Tamil Nadu’s Tuticorin, demanding the closure of a copper smelting plant in the Tuticorin district of Tamil Nadu. Alleging pollution of air, water and soil, the protesters say that the Sterlite Copper plant should not be allowed to expand its operations.
According to the latest update, eleven people (While TamilNadu government says 9 people have died, TN Governor says 11 people) have been killed when the Tamil Nadu police resorted to lathi charge and opened the fire as protests against Sterlite Industrial plant turned violent in Thoothukudi. More than 65 people have been injured in the clashes between agitated protestors and police officials. The injured people have been shifted to a nearby Government Hospital. The protest has been going on for months now and turned violent on Tuesday when protesters were not allowed to march up to the Sterlite Copper plant owed by Vedanta limited and they were stopped by barricades put up by the police. Agitated protesters then started to pelt stones and toppled police vehicles after they were prevented from marching towards the Copper plant. The police said section 144 of CrPc has been invoked in and around the Sterlite unit to provide the security to it as per the orders of Madras High court.
The Police officials also used tear gas to disperse the crowd. Condemning the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK)-led State government for the unrest and the deaths, Kamal Hasaan’s Makkal Needhi Maiam blamed the government for the unrest in Tamil Nadu. The party said in its statement, “The citizens are not criminal. They were doing peacefully protest against Sterlite that was ignored by the government. Negligence of the Governments is the main reason for this incident. “
In the video, a policeman in a yellow T shirt is seen standing on top of the van and firing. Another policeman in a black T shirt is also seen climbing to the top of the van. He lies down and takes aim to shoot.
A protester and eyewitness on the ground, 43-year-old Kittu says, “The Police lathi charged on us brutally even though we were peacefully marching. Women and children were brutally hit with sticks and butts of guns. They also started shooting. “
The police did not give any warning to the protesters that they are going to open fire.
Kollywood star Rajnikanth slammed the AIADMK and wrote on the wall of Twitter, “Tamil Nadu Government’s inaction is responsible for the violence in Tuticorin. TN Government should take the responsibility for the loss of life, and violence in Tuticorin.”
On March 24, 2018, tens of thousands of Thoothukudi residents demanded immediate closure of Vedanta Sterlite’s copper operations. Alleging pollution of air, water and soil, the protesters say the plant should not be allowed to expand its operations.
In March 2013, Hundred of people complained that they are facing the problem of breathing difficulty, nausea and throat infection following an alleged gas leak from the Sterlite Industries plant. So they demanded a ban on Sterlite industries.
According to environmental activist Nityanand Jayaraman, air pollution is already a matter of worry in Thoothukudi. Copper smelters are very polluting industries. They lead to the release of sulphur dioxide and dust particles in the air.