Indian police kill 9 anti-pollution protesters

Indian police kill 9 anti-pollution protesters

They started hurling stones at the police and also overturned a vehicle after which the police lobbed teargas shells to disperse them, they said.

In retaliation, angry protestors set Thoothukudi Collector office premises and the quarters of Sterlite employees on fire.

Owing to the Anti-Sterlite campaigners' call for a massive protest against the operations of copper smelter here, several hundreds of protesters rallied to the collectorate campus here on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a state minister said though the government appreciated the sentiments of the protesters, police firing had become "unavoidable". This provoked the protesters, who went berserk, damaging police vehicles and pelting stones at the police. In the police firing that ensued, at least nine protesters were killed and over 60 people injured, sources said.

D Jayakumar, a state minister, said in a televised address that police had fired on protesters and that it was "unavoidable". It said that about 20,000 people took out a procession towards the district collectorate and the copper plant, demanding its permanent closure and resorted to violence.

12 protestors (including women) seriously injured, all of whom have been taken to a nearby hospital.

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.

Watch this space for more updates
Watch this space for more updates

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.

Opposition parties including PMK, DMDK, Congress, and the MNM slammed the violence and police action, while actor Rajinikanth, who is slated to launch his political party, held the government responsible for the deaths. 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.

In 2013, the Sterlite copper plant was fined by the Supreme Court on account of a gas leak which caused pollution in the area. 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.

After a year of protests by the local people, who were scared of the smelter and also feared the degeneration of the fragile coastline, the Ratnagiri district collector issued a notice and asked them to cease all construction work.

Sterlite Industries India Ltd, a Vedanta Group unit, was in operation in Meelavitan in Tuticorin for the past 20 years. But, they flouted these rules and built the plant in its 14-km radius.

DMK Chief M.K. Stalin showed his support to the residents of the town. He said there was no point in putting up a plant near residential and agricultural zone.

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