Anti-sterlite protest turns violent in Tamil Nadu 20 hurt

Tamil Nadu At least nine dead after police open fire on anti Sterlite protestors in Thoothukudi

Agitated protestors then started to pelt stones and toppled police vehicles.

The police force resisted the marchers and resorted to a lathi charge, reportedly to stop the marchers from entering into the Collectorate. The indifference of the Edappadi K Palaniswamy government to the demands of the local people and its mishandling of the situation came under attack from a cross section of the society soon after the police firing claimed innocent lives.

The protestors also tried to gherao the collector's office and torched vehicles inside the premise.

A few shops in this town, Srivaikundam and Oddapidaram stayed close in the help of the dissent, police said. 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.

The protesters are demanding the closure of Vedanta's Sterlite Copper unit in Tuticorin over pollution concerns.

On Tuesday, the protesters were on a rally and marching towards the district collectorate campus opposing Sterlite Copper Unit even when there is section 144 has been imposed in the area.

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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.

"The gunning down by the police of nine people in the Sterlite protest in Tamil Nadu is a brutal example of state-sponsored terrorism".

Actor Rajnikanth also took to Twitter and slammed the AIADMK. "The peaceful protest by the people of Tuticorin against Sterlite, demanding justice was ignored by the governments", a party statement read. Apart from this, activists contend, a plant like Sterlite will require lot of surface water and resources, which may gradually lead to depletion of drinking water in the area and also shortage for agricultural supply.

The copper plant, owned by a branch of Vedanta Ltd., has been a focus of protests since 2013, when a gas leak sickened dozens of people. The plant was ordered to be closed for a while after the allegations but later the National Green Tribunal let the plant reopen after some time.

DMK Working President MK Stalin condmened the police action, saying the state government should have sorted out the issue earlier through talks with the protesters. The plant should be shut down, Mr Stalin said.

It said in March this year, the company had applied for removal of consent to operate (CTO) for its existing smelter plant. 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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