Anti-sterlite protest turns violent in Tamil Nadu 20 hurt

Anti-sterlite protest turns violent in Tamil Nadu 20 hurt

"Around 20,000 people marched towards Sterlite plant in Thoothukudi and torched police vehicles and vehicles parked inside collectorate", The New Indian Express quoted Palaniswami as saying.

The agitation against Sterlite Copper, which represents the copper unit of Vedanta Limited, escalated in February this year after the company announced the expansion of its unit in the coastal city of Thoothukudi (Tuticorin) in Tamil Nadu. Windscreens of some government cars were smashed and bank premises were attacked by the rampaging mobs.

The police reportedly opened firing again at 12.50 p.m. Unconfirmed reports, however, put the death toll at three. The police firing was unavoidable, he said. It said around 20,000 people took out a rally against the company and became violent by attacking police and burning police vehicles while storming the Collector's office.

Reinforcements have been rushed from neighbouring districts to Tuticorin to assist the local administration in restoring normalcy.

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.

Several vehicles were also set ablaze further escalating tension in the area. The government committed a "Himalayan blunder" by handling the protest with "guns and teargas shells", he said, adding at least a minister accompanied by the district collector should have spoken to the agitators.

He also promised government jobs for one family member of each of those who lost their lives in accordance with their qualifications. To mark the 100th day of the protest for the closure of the plant, the protesters made a decision to march towards the Collector's office.

Opposition parties PMK, DMDK and MNM, besides Dravidar Kazhagam also assailed the government over the issue.

Section 144 of CrPc has been conjured in and around the Sterlite unit to give security.

"The police had to take action under unavoidable circumstances to protect public life and property as the protesters resorted to repeated violence. police had to control the violence", Palaniswami, who holds the Home portfolio, said.

Protesters have alleged that the plant, set up in 1996, was polluting ground water in their area.

Over 4,000 police personnel from the nearby district have been deployed to prevent crowding proved futile, as the protesters at various areas breached the barricades and marched forward towards the collectorate. Following this, Director General of Police T.K. Rajendran is expected to visit the riot-hit harbour town in the evening.

Jayakumar said that the AIADMK government under the late J Jayalalithaa had moved the Supreme Court against a green tribunal order allowing the plant to function, and the petition was pending there. They have always been dying, first because of the plant now because of the government's attitude.

Related Articles