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Five dead in Thoothukudi after Sterlite protests turn violent

Five dead in Thoothukudi after Sterlite protests turn violent

The protestors responded to the police resistance by pelting stones at them and setting vehicles on fire en route to the march. As police could not control the crowd, they resorted to a few actions, it said.

The protestors also tried to gherao the collector's office and torched vehicles inside the premise. People of Oddapidaram and Srivaikundam also kept their shops closed for the day. Chief Minister K Palaniswami confirmed reports about the death of nine people in "police action".

Protesters set vehicles on fire and threw stones at police, prompting the police to open fire.

Police said almost 5000 protesters gathered near a local church and insisted on taking out a rally to the district collectorate after they were denied permission to march to the copper smelter plant.

Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday termed the deaths of nine people in police firing during protests against the Sterlite copper plant in Tamil Nadu a "brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism". Dozens more people were reportedly injured. The police responded by firing tear gas shells.

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Section 144 of the IPC, which prohibits assembly of more than four persons in an area, was enforced in the area on the orders of the Madras High Court.

He also urged people to stay calm and said that the government respects the feelings of the people and will take appropriate action on the matter. The police high-handedness has become the marked response of elected governments to the people's protests against massive projects as witnessed in Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district and elsewhere in the country. The protest, which reminded everyone of the 2017 Jallikattu protest in Chennai's Marina beach, was organised using social media. Sources said the protesters set fire to the staff quarters of the Sterlite industry and caused extensive damages to property at several places. Though the plant was ordered to shut down following allegations of violating pollution control norms, the National Green Tribunal had ultimately allowed it to be reopened.

Tuesday's protest turned violent when a crowd waving black flags stormed the district government headquarters and an apartment block for Vedanta employees, said a company official, who declined to be named for fear of being targeted.

The residents of Tuticorin have been protesting for the closure of the Sterlite Copper plant for over a month now. But, they flouted these rules and built the plant in its 14-km radius. "We would like to restart the plant as soon as possible, in a peaceful manner", said P Ramnath, the chief executive of Vedanta's copper business. He has said that "The TNPCB which ought to have paid keen attention to and taken strong steps to Sterlite's operations has failed to do its job, and this has resulted in the continued sufferings of hundreds of children, women and the elderly of this district who are victims of cancer and other diseases and are fighting for their lives in hospitals around Tamil Nadu".


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