Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

Ten Killed in Violent Protests Against Vedanta's Copper Plant in South India

11 die in police firing as protest against Sterlite Copper turns violent in Tamil Nadu Ten Killed in Violent Protests Against Vedanta's Copper Plant in South India
Elijah Vega | 22 May, 2018, 21:12

With the protests against Sterlite Copper in Tuticorin on Tuesday turning violent when thousands of protestors marched towards the district collectorate, chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami convened an emergency meeting at the state secretariat with top officials to take stock of the situation.

10 dead and 50 others were injured when police opened fire during a protest against Sterlite Copper unit in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu.

The protests against the Sterlite Copper subsidiary of the Vedanta conglomerate have been going on for months in the port city of Tuticorin. 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.

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.

While in excess of 20 individuals endured minor wounds in the stone-pelting episode, a few vehicles were determined to flame, prompting strain in the territory, they included.

Locals have been protesting against Vedanta's plans to expand the smelter, run by its Sterlite Copper unit.

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

A state minister defended the actions of the police, saying that it was "unavoidable". Hurling stones and setting government vehicles and public property on fire, the agitators went on the rampage in the town, about 600 km from Tamil Nadu capital Chennai.

As per the orders of the Madras High Court, police said that Section 144 of CrPc had been invoked around the Sterlite unit to provide security to it. Sterlite Cooper claims that it has all the requisite permits and has not violated any norms.

According to some reports, DMK cadre joined the protesters on the 100th day of the protest and attempted to stage a dharna outside the Thoothukudi Collector's office. The TN government must take action over the concerns expressed by the protesters, they said. In a tweet, she said, "I just landed in Bengaluru to the shocking news about incident near the Sterlite Tuticorin plant". State Opposition leaders slammed the ruling government over its failure to control the mob and several deaths. Other parties including MDMK, CPM and VCK also blamed the government and condemned the police firing. Police units have been rushed from Madurai and Virudhunagar to bring the situation under control. Makkal Needhi Maiam founder Kamal Haasan termed it a non-violent protest. Most shops in Thoothukudi town had downed their shutters accepting the strike call given by Thoothukudi town central traders association.

The minister said the government had not given the licence for expansion of the plant.

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